Social Determinants Of Health: How They Affect All Of Us

“Social determinants of health” (SDOH) refers to the factors outside of traditional care that impact a patient’s health, like education, the place where people were born, live, work, learn, play, and age.

“Examples include food insufficiency, limited access to healthcare, social isolation, and unemployment. SDOH have been shown to have a far greater impact on a patient’s health outcomes than either the clinical care provided or genetic factors.

Social determinants of health look beyond disease. Information on patients’ SDOH, such as living environment and work situation, can highly improve outcomes and ideally lead to a holistic approach.

Improvements in healthcare cannot be achieved until SDOH are addressed, collected, measured, and analyzed. This is where HIM professionals come into play to get relevant information and also help improve ICD-10-CM coding for SDOH.

So far, SDOH information are not systematically collected and standardized terminology is not used for documentation. ICD-10-CM codes for SDOH often are not sufficient or specific enough to reflect the wide range of different aspects.


Education and health care go hand in hand. Those with access to good education are usually healthier and better informed than people without. Education can allow people to get to a better financial situation to access quality health care. Access to quality health care means fewer costs in the long run.


Promedica, a mission-based, not-for-profit integrated healthcare organization serving communities in 30 states, just started an initiative focused on improving patients’ overall health innovating social determinants of health priorities and resources to identify potential improvement priorities and integrated care opportunities. 

As the COVID-19 pandemic has enhanced health disparities, the social determinants of health have gained more importance. According to Promedica, analyzing data to identify risk and racial disparity will allow us to address social need gaps and vaccine skepticism, as data tells that SDOH risk is a compounding factor for COVID-19.


SDOH affect all of us. The main step toward preventive care and holistic approaches to health is addressing social determinants of health and the root causes of health inequity. This will create better outcomes and save costs.

We at PCG can help your organization implement technologies and practices to improve patient care and reduce costs. Contact us today.



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