Collecting and Applying Data on Social Determinants of Health in Health Care Settings

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The Issue:

Current approaches to social determinants are usually focused on population-level and policy interventions, ignoring the individual and clinical innovations that can address a patient’s social circumstances. This article discusses how the health care system can work to address social determinants and improve patient health on three levels—patient, institution, and community levels.

Key Findings

  • The authors suggest improving social data collection within clinical settings to track over time a patient’s social circumstances, and how their health is impacted.

  • Health care organizations should work to use social needs data to understand individual disease risk.

  • Locating health and social services in the same location can improve program efficiencies. Tools such as electronic health records can improve referral capacity.

Conclusion:

As the Affordable Care Act is implemented, it is imperative that health care organizations address social factors at both individual and institutional levels.

About the Study:

This article proposes a framework for integrating determinants into the health care system. Defining three tiers, the article offers ideas on data collection and target interventions within the author’s proposed concept map.