The 77-page toolkit includes four case studies and frequently-asked questions about how to identify, collect, analyze, and use social determinants of health to address healthcare inequities and access issues.
Federal officials have unveiled new resources to help healthcare organizations gather and use data on health inequities.
The Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) Information Toolkit was developed by the Health and Human Services Department's (HHS) Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC). It comes from a 2021 panel of experts organized by the department, which has also developed resources for past and upcoming SDOH Information Exchange Learning Sessions.
HHS defines SDOH as "the conditions in the environments where people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship, and age that affect a wide range of health, functioning, and quality-of-life outcomes and risks." This includes home and family, education, work, travel, and digital literacy, among other factors.
Healthcare organizations have been increasingly focusing on SDOH as they shift to value-based care and the concept of treating the "whole patient" on his or her lifelong healthcare journey. That means taking into account and addressing all the factors that affect a patient's health and wellness through programs and partnerships.
That hasn't been easy. According to a recent survey from the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), roughly 80% of healthcare organizations are collecting SDOH data, but many are collecting incomplete or not enough information, and many don’t know how to use it.
Addressing SDOH is complex given the diversity and multisector nature of services (i.e., food, housing, transportation insecurity, clinical care)," ONC staffers Elise Sweeney Anthony, Mark Knee, and Meley Gebresellassie wrote in a blog post announcing the toolkit. "This can present challenges to service coordination due to non-uniform data collection, varied system designs, and differences in information technology (IT) capacities (including for exchange)."
"ONC recognizes the potential of data-driven technologies, including certified health IT, to impact health equity, and we are committed to advancing the use of interoperable, standardized data to represent social needs and the conditions in which people live, learn, work, and play," they added.
The 77-page toolkit is focused on what ONC calls the 10 foundational elements of SDOH information exchange and includes four case studies and frequently-asked questions. It's designed to help healthcare organizations identify both the type and source of SDOH data, collect and understand that information, and use it in collaboration with other organizations to reduce health inequity and improve healthcare access and clinical outcomes.
Eric Wicklund is the associate content manager and senior editor for Innovation, Technology, Telehealth, Supply Chain and Pharma for HealthLeaders.
Social determinants of health are defined as "the conditions in the environments where people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship, and age that affect a wide range of health, functioning, and quality-of-life outcomes and risks."
The ONC has developed a 77-page toolkit to help healthcare organizations identify, collect, analyze, and use SDOH to address health inequities.
The toolkit is part of an ONC strategy that includes past and future SDOH Information Exchange Learning Sessions.