This article was written by Lisa Miller.
As the US healthcare sector emerges from COVID-19, the impact of social and economic factors on patient health are being closely scrutinized.
While your hospital plans its COVID-19 recovery strategy, I encourage you to include proven SDOH strategies as part of that response. Our three part blog series details the need for an assessment of SDOH readiness in your hospital and provides you with the solutions to achieve it.
Clinical outcomes are based on factors which include the medical care a patient receives, in addition to their social and environmental circumstances. These circumstances are described as the Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) and have significant impact on patient outcomes.
SDOH programs accounted for around $2.5 billion of spend – a figure which is predicted to rise, given the effects of COVID-19.
At VIE Healthcare®, we propose a five step strategic plan:
- Step 1: Identify the critical social needs in your community.
- Step 2: Identify the social needs of your patient community.
- Step 3: Develop a standardized workflow.
- Step 4: Data collection and sharing.
- Step 5: Celebrate success and patient stories with your community and stakeholders.
Multiple federal, state and private initiatives are joining the efforts to address the social needs of patients and improve healthcare across the US. In addition, hospitals have also become financially accountable for quality outcomes with value-based care reimbursement models and have started integrating SDOH into their strategic plans which aim to:
a) Improve the patient experience of care (including quality and satisfaction).
b) Improve the health of populations.
c) Reduce the per capita cost of healthcare.
Research also demonstrates that the best clinical outcomes are achieved by addressing the patient’s medical care, as well as the patient’s social and environmental circumstances.
In this blog, we identify recommended strategies to implement SDOH programs, encompassing:
- Food insecurity – these include initiatives such as food bank programs.
- Social support/isolation – we still cannot measure the impact that lockdown has had on this key issue. A study in April 2020 found that nearly half of all Americans feel lonelier than usual as a result of lockdown.
- Housing instability.
Poverty is a key predictor of poor health. As such, efforts to alleviate root causes including unemployment, poor education, language barriers, community violence and safety within communities are all key targeted areas for healthcare community involvement.
Hospital leaders are seeking solutions to improve overall health of their communities in partnership with community organizations, federal, state and local agencies and philanthropic entities.
In this blog, we emphasized the need for a focused strategic approach selecting just one or two identified community needs in areas including:
- Neighborhood and physical environment risk factors.
- Language barriers and literacy.
- Education and economic stability.
- Safety, violence and incarceration.
SDOH can also be directly correlated with Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
As healthcare providers, we have an obligation to provide quality medical care, and open our eyes to the environments and stressors which inhibit our patients’ recovery and clinical outcomes.
Constant reassessment and innovation are the keys to long-term success and better financial management.
Schedule a call now to implement an SDOH strategy and save your hospital money.