Payers, health systems, and health professionals will experience expanded accountability for performance in closing health disparity gaps in 2024. With advances in public health research, many modern health challenges have been attributed to how social and ecological factors, commonly referred to as social determinants of health (SDOH), can influence health outcomes. To measure the progress in achieving health equity, health disparities are used as a metric to further understand the health ecosystem and the complex dynamics that influence health.
The year 2024 will be the first full year in which health systems will be held accountable by The Joint Commission (TJC) for performance on their National Patient Safety Goal to improve health care equity.1 The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) has expanded race and ethnicity stratification to 9 additional Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS) measures in the measurement year 2024, holding plans and ultimately their participating hospital and practitioner networks accountable for performance on 22 stratified measures within its measure set.2
This article (parts 1 and 2) discusses the importance of SDOH in the health ecosystem; examines the impact of standardized measures in regulatory settings; reviews current, relevant quality measures pertinent to hospitals and health plans; and suggests resources and steps stakeholders (eg, plans, health systems, pharmacists, life science companies) can leverage to incorporate SDOH and health equity initiatives into systemic practice.