Research Findings | Addressing SDoH with Technology

Empowering Social Workers

Technology for SDoH

Beyond Medical Care: Social Determinants of Health

The Social Determinants of Health (SDoH) refer to the non-medical elements that impact health outcomes. They encompass the conditions in which individuals are born, develop, work, reside, and age, as well as the broader set of societal forces and structures that shape daily life circumstances. These encompass economic systems and policies, development goals, social norms, social policies, prejudice, environmental changes, and political structures. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has adopted this SDoH definition from the World Health Organization.

Impact of SDoH

Studies conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) indicate that the Social Determinants of Health can influence as much as 50% of health outcomes of Americans in the United States. Among the SDoH, socioeconomic factors including poverty, employment, and education have been identified as having the most significant impact on health outcomes.

The poverty aspect of the Social Determinants of Health (SDoH), which is incorporated in the CDC’s Healthy People 2030 initiative, encompasses several factors that significantly influence SDoH, including access to necessities such as food, shelter, medical services, and transportation.

Maximizing the impact of healthcare technology

The team at mHealth Social Care holds a steadfast conviction that many of the difficulties in delivering healthcare can be overcome through the implementation of technology. mHealth Social Care’s parent company, mHealthCoach, has a long history of partnerships in various healthcare and social care fields and a successful record in developing technological solutions to address their partners’ challenges, and is poised to tackle a wide range of obstacles and contribute to the success of its partners.

The team at mHealth Social Care holds a steadfast conviction that many of the difficulties in delivering healthcare can be overcome through the implementation of technology. 

The mHealth Social Care Team and its parent company, mHealthCoach, understand the importance of seeking input and collaboration with those who are facing Social Determinants of Health (SDoH) challenges and, in some instances, emergencies on a daily basis. This engagement with front-line personnel is vital in the pursuit of using technology to address and mitigate SDoH challenges.

The mHealth Social Care Team frequently utilizes focus groups, consisting of subject matter experts from various healthcare fields, as a key tool in their work. When the team decided to concentrate their efforts on the Social Determinants of Health (SDoH), they initiated a series of ongoing focus groups composed of social workers from various agencies and backgrounds. This was done to help the team identify and prioritize “Primary Urgent Needs” to effectively direct their technological resources towards aiding social workers in addressing these needs.

Primary findings from mHealth Social Care’s Social Worker Focus Groups

  • The direct impact of SDoH on Health Outcomes is increasingly being acknowledged as both social and healthcare professionals comprehend the impact they have on healthcare treatments.
  • It is imperative to address both the healthcare requirements and the unique SDoH factors of each patient in order to provide comprehensive and effective healthcare services.
  • The smooth transition-of-care is essential to achieving positive health-outcomes, however, it is currently plagued by a lack of adequate communication, follow-up, and adherence.
  • Social workers frequently face three major Social Determinants of Health (SDoH) challenges for their patients/clients: access to transportation for medical and other service-related appointments, access to affordable housing and shelter, and access to food. Housing stability and transportation barriers play a crucial role in a patient’s/client’s ability to access necessary care, and the absence of stability in these areas directly affects it.
  • When a patient/client is referred to external community, medical, substance abuse, or mental health services, there is often a lack of a direct communication channel and follow-up process, aside from manual follow-up by the social worker.
  • The primary challenge for social workers is identifying “readily available” community services and establishing a connection between these services and the patient/client. Scheduling is also a key aspect of this challenge.
  • Although there are often several transportation options supported by county, state, Medicare, Medicaid, and other public and private agencies, these options may not be feasible for some patients/clients due to their unique challenges and the rigid requirements set forth by transportation providers, which can be challenging to comply with in real-world scenarios.

In alignment with its mission to harness technology for a greater social impact, mHealth Social Care has  extended the offering of free licenses to social workers at care organizations who play a vital role in delivering community services. This effort aims to aid care organizations in overcoming the challenges of addressing SDoH and connecting patients/clients to the necessary services.

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