We recorded this video back in November to introduce our coverage of the new IT solutions and services being adopted to connect patients with local resources that can improve their health and quality of life. In this brief interview, Senior Analyst Jody Ranck, DrPH, discusses what is meant by the term social determinants of health (SDoH), why they are such a focus these days in health policy circles, and how healthcare stakeholders are starting to approach addressing them by connecting patients with community resources more equipped to offer support than traditional HCOs.

Shortly after this video was released, we hosted a virtual roundtable with frontline leaders at HCOs who are utilizing these technologies and approaches to help their patients achieve better health outcomes over time. You can watch the replay here.

Be sure to join us for our next virtual roundtable on this topic featuring executives from Aunt Bertha, Heudia, and NowPow. Learn more and register for this live virtual roundtable here: Technology Empowering Community Engagement.

Transcript (mostly generated by AI – please excuse typos):

John Moore III: [00:00:01] Hi, friends, welcome back to Chilmark Research and our video series talking about the health care industry. Today, we will be meeting with Jody Ranck, who is co-author on our latest report, Addressing Social Determinants of Health, Engage in Community Resources. All right, Jody, to start, can you tell us a little bit more about exactly what social determinants of health are and how they’re being defined in the health care system today?

Jody Ranck: [00:00:33] Well, thanks, John. So, first of all, if we want to when we think about social, the social determinants of health, what we’re really talking about are these quantifiable measures about the social context, environmental contexts where patients live. So we’re looking at capturing the data on their income, educational levels, that geospatial barriers to access to care, for example, how far away they are from a clinic and access to transportation, the language, language barriers and even things such as your access to nutritional food. Because, as we know, many people live in and food deserts and don’t have access to affordable, high quality fruits and vegetables and so forth and or more. And then they’re more likely to have a diet and and fast foods, for example. So all of these social determinants can come together in a way to structure the environment that also influences their personal behavior and can lead to poor outcomes in many cases. So that’s why that’s what we refer to when we talk to social determinants of health.

John Moore III: [00:01:42] Great. Thank you for defining that for us, Jody. So the next question I have is why have social determinants of health become such a key part of the conversation in health care today? And what have been some of the challenges around actually incorporating this information into clinical workflows and clinical processes?

Jody Ranck: [00:01:58] So when it comes to the actual challenges of implementing the social determinants of health type of program within four providers and their patients, some of the key challenges have to deal with actually just getting the information on who are the community service providers that can address which issues and then getting the data to understand how they work and what are the outcomes associated with those services. So then actually, once you identify who they are and which are the best providers for for a given social service, we then have to build a relationship and build trust. And and then that involved also involves that we have to share data outside of the clinic and across these silos. And as we know, it’s bad enough or difficult enough to share data within the health care system. Now you’re talking about another layer of service providers and moving that data across different institutional boundaries. So that’s a very big challenge for for most organizations. So solutions that can sort of bring down those costs that also, you know, and or get that data, that’s a very important resource. So that those are major challenges organizations face in getting access to that data and who’s doing what and then governing and, you know, moving the data and then having the proper governance mechanisms in place to sort of manage that data. Those are all very big challenges at the moment.

John Moore III: [00:03:39] Ok, so clearly this hasn’t been the easiest thing to start incorporating into the way that we provide care in America, but it’s important and it’s become increasingly important. That said, we chose to specifically focus on the use of social determinants of health and engage in community resources. So could you give a little bit more explanation as to why we chose to focus on community resources instead of the other applications of social determinants of health?

Jody Ranck: [00:04:04] So that the reason why we focused on looking at the vendors that had solutions that help address these sort of the data needs around community partnerships is related to it. That the main challenge I just mentioned in that health care providers often do not have or typically do not have the data around who’s doing what. And so what does that vendors were looking at? What they do is try to take the work, all that. You know, there’s a certain amount of legwork and digital work that goes into integrating the data and information about the resources that are available for a given problem a patient faces and then making a referral and then perhaps working with care coordinators and so forth to make to do the follow up to make sure the patient indeed accesses those resources. So that solutions we’re looking at in a report really address this need of the providers for access to this data on community community resources so they can they can do the adequate referrals when needed. And so that’s why our report is focused on heavily focus. So on that issue,

John Moore III: [00:05:22] Thanks, Jody, that’s great. So in closing, is there anything else that you would like to add just about the importance of this topic or how we’ll be covering it in the months ahead?

Jody Ranck: [00:05:33] So what does the future hold for this social determinants of health space? And I think a big part of that future is really intimately linked to the current pandemic that we’re facing. What the pandemic has has really shed light on is just how important social determinants of health are. Because if you look at the burden of disease and who’s getting infected the most, experiencing the highest disease burden and death rates, they’re often the poorest, those living in black and Latino communities, those individuals and communities have borne a disproportionate burden of the disease with sars-cov-2. And so we absolutely have to take these issues seriously to address those who are sick now, to protect them from getting sick in the future. But then also, when we think about pandemic preparedness in the future, what would that look like when you have unequal access to health care in this country so that we don’t repeat the same mistake over again? So I think going forward, as we begin to build the models for resilience and pandemic preparedness, social determinants of health are going to we’re going to have to figure quite prominently in those plans. And if they do not, they’re not going to work. And we could, you know, go through the same type of, you know, basically tragedy that we’re currently going through if we do not take social determinants of health seriously. So they’re going to be vitally important as we build that bridge between the formal health care sector sector and public health that link that that has failed to protect people in the in the current moment. We need to build those bridges and fix that gap between the systems. That’s going to be an important piece of work, whether we’re looking at disease surveillance, down to individual care, down to community responses to a pandemic. What we do now around this will build greater resilience in the communities and into the health care system to respond more quickly in the future. Thank you.

John Moore III: [00:07:52] Thank you for joining us this afternoon, Jody, and sharing your insights about social determinants of health. And thank you for joining us on this video today. We hope that you enjoyed the content and we hope that you’ll mark your calendars for November 10th. Twenty twenty. When addressing social determinants of health, engage in community resources will be released to the public. Please also subscribe to our newsletter or our YouTube channel to receive regular updates when we launch new content. Thank you for joining us today. If you enjoyed what you watch here today, please subscribe to our YouTube channel by clicking this link. And if you’d like to see other content that’s related, you can click here or here. Thank you for joining us today.