The Impact Of The Social Determinants Of Health And The Increased Number Of Healthcare Apps On the Healthcare Industry

The term “social determinants of health” (SDOH) refers to the factors outside of traditional care that impact a patient’s health, such as “the circumstances in which people are born, grow up, live, work, and age”. Improvements in overall health metrics are likely to depend on the attention being paid to these social determinants

Healthcare organizations are increasingly addressing patients’ social needs in addition to their clinical needs to deliver patient-centered care and improve health outcomes.

(source: https://www.cdc.gov/nchhstp/socialdeterminants/index.html)

Latest research shows that income level and living environment have a profound impact on patient outcomes.

“If you integrate information about a patient’s clinical experience with information about how that same person lives the rest of their life, you are in a better position to understand the true health and well-being of individuals. And, today, many organizations are using it to better understand the way patients are experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic, too.”

(source: https://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/minding-data-gap-social-determinants-health)

The release of final rules from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT regarding the 21st Century Cures Act have opened new opportunities for patients’ ability to take control of their own health data.

The problem: Not everyone enjoys the same level of health literacy or access to digital healthcare. There are disparities in access to digital health, including telemedicine. Technology access includes both broadband and device access, but about 21 million people in the United States lack broadband access. Digital health equity is a step toward health equity,

(source: https://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/digital-health-literacy-social-determinant-health)

Digital health tools need to be linguistically and culturally tailored for diverse populations. A survey showed that only 22% of diabetes apps have user interfaces available in Spanish – although Latinx people are more likely than the general population to get diabetes.

Organizations need to bring their attention to equity to patient-facing digital health tools. Therefore, it’s essential to invest in patient portals and apps that address the needs of underserved populations and to track digital health access and usage across socio-demographics.

The development of healthcare apps has played an important role in the last years in empowering patients with information. Digital apps can help their users to track their health and offer solutions.

Access to digital tools should be offered to all patients and all patients need to be encouraged and enabled to use digital health tools as part of health care. Getting patients engaged in their healthcare and treatment plans is the key.

(source: https://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/digital-health-literacy-social-determinant-health)

Mobile apps have transformed the healthcare industry, especially through the pandemic. We at PCG can help implement technologies and practices to improve patient care and reduce costs. Contact us today.

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