Why social determinants of health are necessary for the complete patient journey.
Most pharmaceutical and payer research is conducted using clinical data — the same wealth of data that organizations have relied on for years. But clinical care is just one of the factors that affect the way patients manage and respond to disease.
Research suggests that clinical determinants (access to and quality of care) only account for 20% of health outcomes — they are a critical piece of the patient journey, but don’t provide a full picture alone. The key to illuminating the other 80% of the picture: considering social determinants of health.
Of course, it’s not news that lifestyle and environmental aspects play a role in patient journeys and that everything from the environments people live in to their dietary choices (which can also be affected by their physical surroundings) have long been acknowledged for the effect they have on patient outcomes — good or bad.
More than a decade ago, the World Health Organization published their “Closing the gap in a generation” report, calling on governments to take global action on social determinants of health, with the goal of achieving health equity. One meta-analysis found that social factors accounted formore than a third of total annual deaths in the United States.
More organizations are now taking action. Kaiser Permanente just recently announced a $3 million partnership with Community Solutions, leveraging real-time data on social factors to address and end chronic homelessness.
Yet in research, people have historically shied away from trying to account for these social factors. It’s not because they don’t recognize their importance; it’s because of the difficulty in finding data that accurately reflects them, and the significant challenge of incorporating that data alongside clinical data in a HIPAA-compliant and efficient manner.
Over the past decade, these challenges have kept the focus to exhausting as much information from the clinical data as possible. But now, solutions exist that make it easier to draw insights from emerging healthcare data as well, unlocking a whole new part of that patient journey: what their life is like living with their disease or health care challenge. The bespoke technology solutions we’ve developed at HealthVerity can pair clinical data with the kinds of lifestyle and consumer data that reflect social determinants of health — in a manner that’s HIPAA compliant — for a more complete picture of what’s really happening.
You can see the value of this source in the vastly different outcomes for patients with multiple sclerosis. When examining many patients with the same diagnosis, we can now see that some are traveling, going to the theater, going to the gym on a regular basis and generally staying active, while others are wheelchair-bound without the same ease of opportunity in getting out and about. Clinical data may show you part of that picture, but when it’s responsibly paired with lifestyle data, it can illuminate critical factors that explain why some patient cohorts respond so differently to the same course of treatment.
There’s so much of the picture still left to be uncovered: understanding patients’ health care cost burdens; their dietary decisions; understanding how socioeconomic status and available transportation may impact access to care, with new insights to be uncovered in areas like patient isolation or food insecurity. Our solutions allow HIPAA-compliant analytics on patient groups, without physically combining the data on a one-to-one basis. The end result is a significant improvement in the ways you can segment patient types and preferences along with patient behaviors, enabling more insightful go-to-market or outreach decisions.
Applying these solutions led to breakthrough analytics on the detection and management of Alzheimer’s for one of our current clients. With the combination of consumer and lifestyle data now incorporated, new patient segments were built — yielding a 15% increase in early detection of Alzheimer’s, along with stronger insights on the quality of life for patients already receiving Alzheimer’s therapy.
Every new problem we’ve tackled at HealthVerity has presented unique technical challenges and one of the most persistent challenges isn’t technical in itself: it’s getting people to rethink what’s possible with technology. For years, organizations have limited themselves to a partial view of the patient journey not because they didn’t want the whole picture, but because they didn’t know it was possible to build one.
We’ve led a path that allows far better insight at the patient level. What we’re seeing from clients who complete projects is a different level of understanding, which ultimately puts them in a position to better inform, educate, and help in managing patients’ health care journeys.
Get in touch to learn how we can help complete the picture for your patients’ journeys. Don’t settle for what you think is possible. Find out what really is.