Social determinants of health (SDOH) are the new holy grail of population health management. Every health care conference agenda has sessions focusing on the topic. Why the new emphasis on social determinants and what can we do to ameliorate their impact on health care costs and outcomes?
What's Driving the Emphasis on Social Determinants
Value based care models are driving a focus on social risk factors that contribute to decreased revenues and higher costs for many value based care entities.
Today, home based care providers are serving a disproportionate share of Medicare beneficiaries at risk of experiencing the adverse effects of social determinants on overall health outcomes, but they are an underutilized resource to manage SDOH. Data on Medicare patients using home health services indicate that home health agencies serve a higher percentage of low income beneficiaries, dual eligibles, and individuals living alone than the overall Medicare population.
While home care providers routinely perform a number of services that support social determinants of health initiatives such as: assessments identifying some social determinants, patient education, patient and provider communication, coordination of community based services, much more could be done.
Enabling the Home Care Response
As the evolving health care model continues to shift more patients from facility based settings to the home, the intersection between home care and social determinants will become increasingly important in managing the impact of social determinants on at-risk populations and improving both costs and outcomes.
To effectuate the potential of home care to manage social determinants, however, will take the combined efforts of public policy, payers and new entrants.