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Using Technology and Social Determinants to Enhance Healthcare Today

By 07.02.19
Reading time: 2 minutes

In 1979, the Surgeon General’s report of “Healthy People” outlined an initiative and framework for a national effort from the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion to set goals and objectives “to improve the health and well-being of people in the United States.” Since this starting point, the healthcare industry has worked diligently to meet the evolving wants, needs, and demands of people’s well-being with “Healthy People 2020,” still an integral part of their efforts.

A major factor for achieving success in a person’s well-being is to be able to support non-clinical areas of a patient’s life. In other words, what are some social factors that can lead to successes or barriers toward better health and well-being? Social determinants such as socioeconomic status, education, neighborhoods, physical environment, employment, and social support work as clues and guides when caring for patients. When we tie these factors into the business operations of a healthcare system, issues between balancing costs and meeting the needs of patients are likely to arise.

Healthcare executives gather to improve community health

To this point, on June 6, 2019, healthcare executives across the county met during Modern Healthcare’s Critical Connections: Social Determinants of Health Symposium to discuss and understand the issues that plague their communities. Additionally, they discussed the effectiveness at meeting the needs of their community if there aren’t better payment reimbursement options for services.

“Health systems are limited to doing much beyond clinical care,” said Dr. Adam Myers, Chief Population Health Officer at the Cleveland Clinic.

Myers discussed the struggle he faced while working to help provide a home air conditioning unit for a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patient in Texas. Heat would exacerbate the patient’s COPD symptoms, but his insurance carrier wouldn’t cover the expense of an A/C unit. Myers said figuring out how to retool insurance to cover such things will lead to savings for the healthcare system.

The cost of better healthcare

Certainly, these extra costs are being considered by the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), and it has been suggested that CMS require organizations to screen all patients’ social needs as part of Medicare payments. And, as Dr. Dan Simon, president of University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center says, the continued transition to value-based payment will support the focus on social risk factors. 

Using technology to break down healthcare barriers

At Silverline, our point of view on Healthy People and social determinants goes hand in hand, and one cannot exist without the other. Thinking about the original goal of “Healthy People,” we help share the view of a patient’s barrier to care by equipping organizations with the tools and knowledge to act on solutions that help to break down barriers. Using technology to engage openly and easily with patients is Silverline’s first step.  

For example, as a nurse, you want to document and follow up with a parent to make sure they understand the importance of keeping the child’s antibiotic refrigerated and to administer dosing accurately for a successful outcome. You also want easily accessible knowledge articles and information for social services or alternatives ready to share with the caregiver because you know the home for the patient is not adequately equipped with a reliable refrigerator.

Silverline wants your organization to know the needs of your community. We help you collect and organize social determinants so that you can engage at the right levels, identify and act on care gaps, and validate your successes in a “Healthy Patient” community. Ready to take the next step? Find out more about Silverline’s Healthcare expertise.

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