Social determinants of health (SDOH) are the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age; they are shaped by the distribution of money, power, and resources at global, national, and local levels.
Leveraging SDOH offers tremendous opportunities in healthcare. Increasingly, evidence suggests that focusing on “upstream” interventions outside of traditional clinical care — such as housing, neighborhood conditions and increased socioeconomic status — can lead to overall improvements in health and reduce health disparities and inequities.
The Coronavirus pandemic 2019 (COVID-19) further illuminated disparities and inequities and the disproportionate effect on people who identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). The pandemic also emphasized the need for health and social care organizations to identify tools for addressing needs and accelerated the call for documentation of a patient’s social circumstances.
Yet, the successful capture and utilization of SDOH for clinical decision-making is not without its challenges. Applying data governance strategies and principles offers an opportunity to improve the collection and use of social determinants within healthcare facilities.