With data and analytics accepted as valuable tools in population health management, questions are now focused on what kinds of data to include and how to best use it.
Health care leaders quickly learned that the most accessible data – claims data – is important but not enough. It’s not particularly timely and it’s often limited to inpatient procedures and diagnoses.
Adding in clinical data helps. When cleaned and normalized, it offers insight into over-the-counter drugs, co-morbidities and test results.
But even when combined clinical and claims data can’t tell providers why a patient regularly skips appointments or fails to fill prescriptions.
Perhaps the patient doesn’t have access to transportation. Maybe the patient can’t afford their medication. Maybe there are cultural traditions or familial duties that conflict with a treatment plan.
These types of questions can be grouped together under the heading social determinants of health (SODH).
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines the term as the condition in the places where people live, learn, work, and play.
The World Health Organization says the conditions are influenced by the distribution of money and power.
The concept of SDOH broadens the scope of “healthcare data” and poses tough questions about where and how healthcare analytics needs to combine this data with other traditional sources for analytics.
Although scholarship of SDOH has been around for more than three decades, its relevance to current healthcare analytics is still under exploration.
Join me on Twitter @OptumOneMD at 11 a.m. CST Friday, June 10 for a #HITsm chat to discuss Social Determinants of Health.
About the Author:
Carl Johnson, MD, EdM, MSc. is a pediatrician trained at Boston Children’s Hospital. He completed a Medical Education fellowship at Harvard Medical School and was a faculty health services researcher at The Mount Sinai School of Medicine.
Before joining Optum Analytics he worked as a physician executive at Cerner Corporation. He is a graduate of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City and has held faculty positions at Harvard Medical School, University of California at San Francisco, The Ohio State University, and The Mount Sinai School of Medicine.
Dr. Johnson believes that healthcare can be transformed with the help of the right data. When he is not helping to transform healthcare, he can be found playing tennis, cooking, perfecting his French, taking photographs, reading historical fiction, listening to music, and watching Ohio State Football.