Although research has shown that a person’s health outcome is closely related to the social and environmental backgrounds they live and interact with, questions around how social factors impact health outcomes have never received copious attention until the country was struck by the COVID-19 pandemic. Data released by the Center for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) reveals the COVID-19 hospitalization rate of African Americans and Hispanic/Latino persons is almost 5 times higher than that of white Americans. Similarly, African Americans’ COVID-19 death rate is two times higher than white Americans.1 It’s quite clear that social factors do indeed play a critical role in health outcomes as we continue to see research surfacing these concepts.
The numbers are shocking and concerning. But why? While a significant amount of research has been deployed to understand how social determinants of health (SDOH) impact care variation, we have yet to bring these findings into actionable insights. For stakeholders across the healthcare industry, what can we do to reduce health inequities and deliver timely and high-quality care to patients who are in most need? This blog answers questions on existing research, use cases, and data collection, presenting reasons why we should continue to invest in SDOH. Using 2019 full-year Medicare Fee for Service (FFS), our analysis reveals SDOH areas that are key to continue reforming care delivery models and enhance care quality.