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New Equity Metric Launched to Assess Plan Members' Digital Access, Literacy

Analysis  |  By Laura Beerman  
   November 08, 2021

"Digital Landscape helps payers and other organizations fully understand and navigate barriers of success for any new or existing tech-enabled initiative … They need to know what is going to work," says Trenor Williams, CEO and cofounder of Socially Determined.

    Socially Determined, the Washington, D.C.-based technology company that measures the impacts of the social determinants of health (SDOH), has developed Digital Landscape, a new metric for assessing digital equity as an SDOH component. Using Digital Landscape, organizations can assess equity "within a population or community and the impact it has on health outcomes and business performance." The metric is part of Socially Determined's SocialScape analytics platform that helps organizations design, implement, and measure targeted community health initiatives.

    Related: Social Determinants Meet the Business Case

    Digital Landscape's multiple components are designed to assess whether members can access, afford, and use the technology solutions that payers and other stakeholders are investing so heavily in. "Digital Landscape gives payers the visibility that will be critical to understanding digital equity among their members as reliance on technology grows," says Socially Determined CEO and co-founder Trenor Williams.

    Socially Determined reports that "[t]he Digital Landscape metric is unique in its ability to offer an advanced and comprehensive analysis of factors related to [digital equity], … and how they all intersect." These factors include:

    • Access – Broadband availability plus computer/smartphone ownership and public internet access.
    • Affordability – Internet access costs, individually and as a function of overall household budget.
    • Literacy – An individual's technological understanding and skills.

    These factors can be measured at a highly granular level. "The Digital Landscape risk metric evaluates the intersection of accessibility, affordability, and digital literacy at a 200-meter level resolution across every community in the United States," says Williams. "This helps ensure that payers and other organizations fully understand and can navigate barriers of success for any new or existing tech-enabled initiative … It's paramount to be as precise and accurate as possible because we live in a world with limited resources. Payers and other organizations need to know what is going to work."

    In addition to Digital Landscape, Socially Determined's SocialScape platform includes a range of SDOH data and proprietary risk scores related to food, housing, transportation, and economic security as well as health literacy. The company cites the rise and continued use of telehealth driven by COVID-19 as a factor in "elevating digital equity as a major influencer of business performance for payers and providers, and the overall wellbeing of communities and populations."

    “[Digital literacy] … is a risk factor that is now on par with food, housing, and other Social Determinants of Health because it's so foundational to life in America in the twenty-first century, affecting not just healthcare, but also education, employment, social connection, and other areas of life. These factors are all interconnected, and SocialScape gives organizations a way to understand and act on this effectively.”

    Laura Beerman is a contributing writer for HealthLeaders.


    Socially Determined has launched Digital Landscape, the first equity metric to factor digital access, affordability, and literacy.

    Digital Landscape is part of the company's SocialScape analytics platform, which includes data and proprietary risk scores related to food, housing, transportation, and economic security.

    The metric's comprehensive and granular components are designed to help payers and other healthcare stakeholders create tech initiatives that achieve desired outcomes.

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