Clinical diagnosis is only related to healthcare outcomes 20% of the time. The lion’s share, 80%, of these outcomes are associated with the conditions in which we are born, grow, live, work and age. These things determine whether we get sick, stay sick or succumb to sickness. In the healthcare space, these are known as Social Determinants of Health (SDOH). Everything can affect our ability to lead healthy lives: the housing we live in, the air we breathe, how secure we feel, how nutritious our food is, and how early we catch diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Social determinants are at the heart of unfair and avoidable differences in patient health. For instance, In Columbia, South Carolina, individuals who live a half a mile apart have a 20-year difference in life expectancy, and that difference can be attributed to income levels and racial divides.
Image via U Michigan https://sph.umich.edu/pursuit/2018posts/what_are_social_determinants_of_health.html
SDOH matters to providers, payers, biopharma, life sciences, and organizations across the country who work to close the gap in care. Data Axle offers the building blocks to address SDOH initiatives. Data Axle structured and organized data readily feed the AI/ML applications and provide insight to care programs that address these critical factors in optimizing healthcare for all of us.
In 2023, we see SDOH having a positive impact on patient empowerment, audience targeting, eliminating inequalities, and diversifying clinical trials.
In 2023, everyone with access to a smartphone can level the playing field. At-Home diagnostics, remote monitoring and on demand virtual care will continue to allow patients to access more doctors, self-monitor and report their own vitals, and will allow patients access to healthcare professionals quicker than making a regular doctor’s appointment, without the cost and time associated with an emergency room visit.
Telehealth systems like Teladoc allow patients to see a doctor anytime and anywhere, just by logging into their account on their smartphone or tablet. So instead of taking several hours off of work, taking a bus downtown, waiting in the doctor’s office and then taking an hour long bus ride back, a patient could see a doctor for a routine question or check up during her half hour lunch break. Or they can ask for a doctor-on-demand, where healthcare professionals meet their patients at home, like Dispatch Health. Patients prefer to be at home, and healthcare providers are finding it can be less expensive and yield good results.1
Telehealth empowers healthcare providers to access and treat hard to reach populations and lowers treatment costs. When more people have more access to routine check ups, they are less likely to have costly chronic illnesses like heart disease, which costs the US about 219 billion each year.2
Individuals are taking charge of their own health with wearable health devices that can monitor heart rates, blood sugar levels and count steps. Apps like Headspace can help monitor your sleep patterns and make suggestions for improving the quality of your rest. Nifty Alzheimer’s Socks were designed by a teenager “to keep his grandpa safe” and are featured in this Ted talk. The SickBeats, airway clearance vest for Cystic Fibrosis is an exciting, innovative application of winning wearable health! Today, usage of these technologies are most popular for monitoring and managing a few specific diseases, like diabetes or psychological disorders, but in the future wearables and apps can and should be pervasive in many more diseases and at all stages of healthcare and healthcare delivery activities.3
Because these products and companies only make suggestions or act as recording or monitoring devices, they often aren’t subject to the intense privacy restrictions and regulatory hurdles that other healthcare products and services are subject to. This data, once the critical privacy concerns are addressed, can be used and architected to see a grander and more granular picture of how diseases work across demographics, culture and socioeconomic status.
In 2023, companies will continue to access and use first and known-person third-party data to optimize and market these DTC solutions and services, and these organizations will continue to capitalize on data to personalize their messaging and products to address each consumer’s needs individually. These products and services will use streaming platforms and CTV to hyper-target their customers because of the strength of their household targeting. Google ads and social media ads allow marketers to leverage exponential amounts of data. So, these marketers may hone in on the perfect customer based on pinpointed location, an exact subsection of demographics, and precise preferences.
An individual’s health is impacted by all areas of the individual’s life. Food deserts, for example, occur where a community has no easily accessible grocery store that sells fresh fruit and vegetables. Food deserts force local residents to rely on pre-packaged or fast food. Both those options are high in sodium, sugar and cholesterol, driving rates of diabetes and heart disease in already vulnerable populations.4 One of the most infamous food deserts in the U.S. is located in Macon, Georgia.
Image via the SORENSON IMPACT CENTER credit: https://www.forbes.com/sites/sorensonimpact/2021/01/07/ozs-could-be-the-place-based-solution-we-need-to-tackle-usda-food-deserts/?sh=30072f015570
With digital resources, healthcare providers can link their patients up with community organizations that advocate for better health in their area. Location data can assess the number of grocery stores and access to care to find opportunity zones. From there, legislators and community members can then work to fill the gaps. Healthcare providers can also use the data coming in with SDOH attributes to forecast, classify and identify health conditions, like COVID-19, and then give people in specific locations or in vulnerable demographics the information they need to create initiatives that will work for their community.5
Not everyone has access to at-home internet, smartphones with sufficient data, or the ability to use digital tech. In 2023 good work will continue to bridge this “digital divide.” Infrastructure to increase access to the internet will continue to be built. Tech will become more user friendly, and more healthcare platforms will expand what they provide digitally to reach all their patients. Stakeholders will continue to initiate plans to close disparity gaps, and escalate momentum for expanded SDOH and Health Equity initiatives. AI will be key to informing these plans.
More and more we understand that there’s no one size fits all approach to health. When clinical trials include more diverse participants, we will understand the nature of diseases better and can hone treatment and medication so they work better and help more people.
Pharmaceutical companies are already developing strategies to make their clinical trials accessible to diverse groups of people. In 2019 the FDA drafted guidance on clinical trial diversity, and the guidance was finalized in the fall of 2020. Concurrently, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) published industry wide principles on clinical trial diversity.6
These new principles and guidelines will expand messaging to address misinformation, create awareness, and build better relationships with underrepresented communities via their community leaders. Data and AI will be crucial in this new push for inclusive trials. It’s a challenge to use all available types of data–from genome data, clinical data, case statistics and scientific research outcomes all together, to name a few. Data analytics is crucial to compile and understand how disease and health actually work.7 Technology, resources and coalition building initiatives will help Pharma support its customer’s unmet needs, and even anticipate them.
In 2023, we’ll get more data from a wider variety of places and people so that stakeholders can innovate new solutions to ever evolving health concerns.
SDOH data will go further in the next year than it did before. AI tech will bring more pieces of the puzzle together, and our clients will be able to pull the exact information they need to support the good work they do to make our communities healthier, across the board. We invite you to work with Data Axle to support your SDOH applications and analytics. We’re happy to join the fight to capitalize on the SDOH trends through our comprehensive data sets. Learn more about SDOH building blocks or contact us now to get started.
With over 25 years of data industry experience, Lisa owns a deep knowledge and understanding of actionable data and predictive outcomes. She is passionate about architecting data-driven solutions that fit customer needs and helping them exceed their business goals. She owns avid listening skills, has an insatiable sense of curiosity, and loves to network with like-minded professionals.