How to Measure Social Determinants of Health
Learn to identify and leverage the most impactful data for your community
The social determinants of health (SDoH) weave an intricate web of factors that ultimately affect our overall wellbeing. These five powerful forces – economic stability, education, social and community context, health care access, and neighborhood and built environment – work cohesively to shape our health outcomes.
Taking a deep look into these often-misunderstood dynamics of life proves that the pursuit of wellness is not solely an individual endeavor, but is intimately interconnected with our surroundings, resources and social systems. Things like access to healthy food, clean air, safe housing and reliable transportation all play a part in health outcomes. Measuring SDoH is imperative to understanding how societal factors shape individuals and communities and how to address problems affecting overall well-being.
How Can Organizations Track and Measure SDoH?
We’ve determined the cause, but how do we measure these social determinants accurately? Simply put: the answer lies in data. Organizations can use a variety of sources like survey research, remote sensing data analysis, content analysis of policy documents and media reports and user-input data to uncover and measure trends in a timely manner.
For example, by utilizing remote sensing data analysis, it’s possible to detect changes in physical environments such as air pollution or traffic patterns over time. And content analysis of policy documents and media reports can help identify which programs are working in respective communities and which have missed the mark.
To effectively track and measure SDoH, it is essential to focus on the most influential data points, which includes socioeconomic status, education, social support networks, age, gender, race and language. Delving into these datasets illuminate disparities and highlight avenues of improvement so that organizations understand how factors shape the healthcare landscape.
How Can an Integrated Case Management System Help?
Community CareLink, a comprehensive case management electronic health record (EHR), includes SDoH assessments built into our software so users can easily identify and access critical welfare information. Through self-sufficiency questionnaires, we can define pre- and post-social determinants of health and uncover the hidden factors shaping overall wellbeing. Questions ranging in diverse categories like housing, employment, income, food, childcare, education, health care coverage, relationships, substance abuse and mental health craft a comprehensive evaluation of an individual's life.
Types of Data useful in measuring SDoH include:
Self-Assessment Data Follows Progress
The journey begins with the client undergoing an initial assessment, answering queries like, "How secure is your adult education?" on a scale of one to five. This assessment is revisited regularly, building a story of progress, or decline, over time. The data unravels the impact of the organization on each client's SDoH, ideally crafting a sweeping narrative of transformation within the program. Assessment data can also shine a light on clients that require additional support or resources, or gaps in programming, making it easy for organization or community leaders to address acute issues head on.
Remote Sensing Data Analysis Helps Forecast Living Conditions
Remote sensing data analysis is a valuable tool for predicting living conditions to assist in better decision-making. With the aid of advanced technology, such as satellites and aerial imagery, remote sensing allows scientists to learn about diverse environmental factors like resource availability, climate change, and potential risks to human populations. Having a way to collect and analyze this type of data plays a crucial role in preparing for an uncertain future and taking actions that ensure the well-being of generations to come.
Content Analysis Examines Behavior
Content analysis provides a unique and powerful tool for systematically examining various types of communication, enabling researchers to uncover hidden patterns, trends, and meanings within a culture or community. By delving into a diverse array of sources, such as social media feeds, newspapers, advertisements, or even historical documents, public health professionals gain insight into the cultural, social, and psychological dimensions of human life. Analysis of policy documents or public health reports can show the effectiveness of current or past programs, informing future efforts for other communities.
User-Input Data Shows Human Impact at Scale
CCL allows case managers, clinicians, organizational leaders and other users to input data at both the client and organizational levels. From initial intake assessments to program outcomes/achievement scores and everything in between, CCL creates a longitudinal record of mental health and personal growth for members of communities across the U.S. Imagine having access to a database of outcomes, lessons learned and best practices from organizations just like yours, struggling to solve the same challenges.
CCL can effectively identify potential health risks and allocate resources with precision. These analyses provide healthcare professionals with invaluable insights, enabling them to design targeted interventions and address the root causes of health inequities.
Ready to Get Started?
Measuring SDoH is essential for public health professionals who want to create meaningful change in their communities. With the right data-driven approach, organizations have the power to identify trends quickly and accurately so they can make informed decisions about how best to tackle SDoH-related issues. In short, having access to this type of timely information is critical to ensure healthy outcomes for all members of society.
Discover the power of Community CareLink, your one-stop solution for personalized case management, referral networking and supporting care across a clients lifetime of need. Embrace the perks of a cloud-based platform designed for clinicians, funders, nonprofits, and governments – all working together to uplift lives. Unlock real-time insights and trends within your community, empowering you to make strategic, result-driven decisions across the continuum of care. Schedule a demo to see how we can help!