Family Physicians Debate Social Determinants of Health

HealthLandscape has long recognized the value of Social Determinants of Health – the idea that socioeconomic and demographic characteristics play significant roles in influencing health outcomes. This idea has been gaining traction over the past few years, with organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention releasing new guidelines on Health Outcomes and Determinants.

In their March/April 2016 issue, the Annals of Family Medicine ran three pieces discussing the integration of social determinants of health into primary care practice.

Alongside our colleagues at OHSU and OCHIN, Dr. Andrew Bazemore and Jené Grandmont represented the HealthLandscape team in the authorship of the main editorial article, “Perspectives in Primary Care: A Conceptual Framework and Path for Integrating Social Determinants of Health Into Primary Care Practice.” This editorial discusses the importance of incorporating social determinants of health into the process of care. The article addresses the idea of standardizing the SDoH to be collected at the point of care, in line with the 11 domains recommended by the National Academy of Medicine in their 2014 report “Capturing Social and Behavioral Domains and Measures in Electronic Health Records.” Further, the piece begins to explore an integration framework, considering how SDoH might best be used for practice and research.

The follow-up point/counterpoint section features two physicians debating the benefits of placing social determinants of health onto a primary care physician’s already overloaded plate. While both writers recognize the value of incorporating patient and community data, opinions differ on what the physician’s role in that process should be and how effectively a physician can use that information to help their patients.

It will be interesting to see where these conversations take us in the world of health care delivery, and we’re excited to be a part of it.

Want more information about social determinants of health? Visit our Population Health Mapper to explore community characteristics and health outcomes in your area or check out the HealthLandscape Community Vitals API, a powerful tool that allows researchers and others to append extracts of the HealthLandscape community data pool to their de-identified clinical records in order to study the impact of social and behavioral factors on health outcomes.

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