Better data collection and sharing remains a key imperative to address SDOH, according to Oregon experts – State of Reform

According to RJ Briscione, Director of the Focus Group, addressing the social determinants of health (SDOH) requires several critical elements: reliable and timely data on people’s social needs; being there and talking to people face to face; and the ability to adapt and make changes.

Briscione chaired a panel last month on how addressing these social needs impacts health equity 2022 Oregon State of Reform Health Policy Conference. Joining him on the panel were Jess Soltesz, director of social health at Kaiser Permanente Northwest, and Richard Bruno, MD, senior medical director of clinical care at Central City Concern, an organization that serves the homeless in Portland.

Get the latest country-specific healthcare policy updates straight to your inbox.

The panel discussion had a common theme throughout: data. Advocate across healthcare have long identified themselves greater, more coordinated health data collection as a priority for effective SDOH management. The panelists doubled down on that.

“How do we collect this data and how do we make sure we’re reaching the people who really need it, and not just the people we see in our clinics every day?” Soltesz said.

Soltesz noted that there are “hidden populations” that current SDOH reconnaissance strategies fail to reach, leaving the sector with incomplete data on their social needs. Because people with SDOH challenges tend to consume the healthcare system at lower rates, she said, making proactive, intentional outreach to individuals is critical for the healthcare system.

“If we don’t target these populations, we’re not going to get a good sense of what needs are really out there,” she said.

A big part of this is incorporating more community-centered intervention methods, such as B. Non-English data collection options and community health workers. She said community health workers needed to be more involved to get to the root of individuals’ social needs.

“In our world, [SDOH are] will first appear [patients] emerge with a high need in our medical system,” said Briscione. “Unfortunately, that’s the only way we have to measure.”

Soltesz emphasized that the healthcare system does not need to create a new structure for collecting social data, but rather needs to work with the community-based organizations (CBOs) that are already doing this work, and use the data they receive about beneficiaries to implement it SDOH interventions.

“We can’t just ask, we have to ask for a reason,” Soltesz said of the SDOH data collection.

Briscione and Soltesz discussed how COVID impacted data collection and highlighted the digital divide as a prominent obstacle. When organizations rely on electronic contact methods to identify social needs, only those who have access to the necessary technology or who have sufficient technological knowledge can get involved. These are often “rich white people,” emphasized Briscione.

For example, when Briscione facilitated COVID vaccine distribution during his time at Aetna, his team selected vaccine retailers who lived near the highest numbers of black and brown residents to target these underserved populations and ensure they had access to vaccines.

However, he discovered that the only people who signed up for appointments were those with the technology to book vaccination appointments online — not the intended underserved populations.

To improve this, Briscione and his team instead distributed vaccines through trusted CBOs that served these communities, such as black churches. His team also purchased vehicles to conduct mobile vaccine distribution instead of relying on the online enrollment process.

Soltesz added that it is important to go into the communities and learn directly from them how best to carry out projects like vaccine distribution, instead Presenting a ready-made plan to communities without consulting their members

The panel also stressed that collecting the data is only one piece of the puzzle; The data also needs to be synthesized and put to good use. Bruno pointed out that there are many ways to collect data via SDOH– community health needs assessments, providers interviewing patients directly, payers interviewing beneficiaries – but not many effective ways to share and use them to create change.

This, he said, provides an opportunity for collaboration between the different organizations collecting the data. He urged stakeholders to keep up to date with the ever-evolving SDOH data from the pandemic and to consider ways to use this data to create collaborative solutions.

Panelists also provided some recent examples of successful SDOH-focused initiatives in Oregon.

Bruno spoke about the importance of housing during COVID and how providing housing assistance can help protect Oregon residents from the risks of overcrowding during public health emergencies like COVID. He listed those of the city of Portland Safe recreation villages Initiative as a successful means by which the government has addressed the housing shortage for the thousands of homeless people in Portland post-COVID.

Through this project, the city implemented a “pod system” in which they partitioned off areas or “pods” for unoccupied people that contained essentials such as heating and shelter. This allowed these individuals to maintain social distancing practices while maintaining access to essentials.

Briscione and Soltesz discussed Health Share Oregon’s successful efforts to use data to reach members who may be at risk of heat- or climate-related health impacts Offer them Medicaid-covered air conditioners. Health Share Oregon reached out to members suffering from respiratory illnesses, etc., and ended up distributing around 300 air conditioners to Medicaid beneficiaries who needed them during this summer’s heat wave.

Briscione also spoke about Aetna’s partnership with Feeding South Florida, which set up pantries at schools for food-insecure families to obtain groceries. They also offered a Spanish-language social needs survey for beneficiaries who participated in the program.

When his team found that transportation was a prominent issue for these families (many families had limited access to transportation to pick up and/or bring home food), they set up mobile “dispensaries” through which vehicles could dispense groceries to a network of locals brought clinics closer to the families who needed them.

Briscione said this project significantly reduced the target population’s A1C levels.

“I think it boils down to the model: start with something, find a good partner, you have to adapt and know what you want to measure, and move on,” he said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *