Patient health is impacted every day by social, economic and environmental factors — also known as social determinants of health, or SDOH. Medical care determines only 20% of overall health, according to County Health Rankings. Social, economic and environmental factors determine 50% of overall health. A few examples:
- Social isolation can increase risk of heart disease by 29% and stroke by 32%;
- Lower education levels are correlated with higher likelihood of smoking and shorter life expectancy; and
- 75% to 90% of primary care visits are due to effects of stress, which also correlate with lower medication adherence. Money, work and family responsibilities are the top three causes of stress.
Leveraging clinically validated SDOH data can identify health risk with increased precision. This valuable patient data aids pharmacy industry leaders in identifying opportunities to expand, optimize and innovate. Highly targeted SDOH data can uncover opportunities to improve health, patient engagement and patient retention outcomes.
In the pharmacy, this understanding of patients’ social determinants can impact programming on multiple levels. With this data, pharmacies are better positioned to create new patient engagement programs that impact the patient care experience. SDOH data can help prioritize how resources should be allocated to different patients based on the best criteria for the desired outcome.
Highly specific SDOH data allows stratification based on barriers to medication adherence or other care outcomes. Pharmacies may provide discounts to use transportation services or simply connect patients with a transportation service. Automated texts can be pushed to patients whose prescriptions are due to be refilled.
Also, more pharmacies have found it necessary to provide more robust patient care in the form of walk-in retail clinics. Social determinants data can have an impact on that aspect of the care continuum, guiding corporate planning on where to locate those services based on patient barriers to care.
Using SDOH data, pharmacies can meet patients’ deeper needs, those that have the highest impact on outcomes. This data provides confidence at every step.
To get you started, LexisNexis Risk Solutions has outlined three steps to create an SDOH program.
1. Select the focus of your initiative
Identify the patient population and health outcomes to target. Determine specific medical conditions (like diabetes) and outcomes that significantly impact your patient populations. Look for groups that may be impacted by medication noncompliance. These conditions can lower the patient’s quality of life and can be positively impacted by pharmacy intervention. Leveraging LexisNexis SDOH data, stratify your patient population according to their level of risk to apply your resources. Work with your analytics team to narrow the geographical focus to specific cities and compare patterns.
2. Match existing programs to patient needs
With your focus identified, you must determine the resources that will address the patients’ barriers to care. Do patients need additional education on their prescriptions and follow-up reminders, or transportation to pick up a refill?
Matching patients with existing resources is very effective in improving patient outcomes. You can measure success by weighing how well internal programs and community partnerships cover these needs. Then, consider establishing new programs and partnerships to cover them.
3. Work with local health services
When high-risk patients connect with community resources, pharmacies see the biggest effect on health outcomes. Launching an SDOH initiative requires thoughtful analysis among analytics teams, clinicians, social workers and other community partners in conjunction with buy-in from leadership.
The best way to get started is with a “quick win” project like addressing transportation needs in a specific community. You’ll start making an impact right away. Then, you can scale into broad-based initiatives to reach more patients — to achieve improved health outcomes.