Two new and seemingly unrelated approaches to delivering healthcare are starting to take shape in the industry: the use of artificial intelligence, and the integration of social determinants of health in crafting care plans. Both trends are developing independently, but they’re likely due to intersect; factoring in SDOH is possible due to data, and if AI shines in any one particular area, it’s making sense of complex data sets.
If the social determinants are comprised of the socioeconomic factors that can influence a person’s health – income, education, access to transportation, etc. – then AI has the potential to allow providers to make the best possible use of that information.
That becomes increasingly important as value-based care emerges. With reimbursement increasingly tied to health outcomes, providers have a real incentive to ensure they’re delivering the best care possible.
Terry Ward, senior vice president of solutions at healthcare technology outfit Apixio, sees SDOH broken down into three distinct stages: identification, integration and application.
Identification comes first, as care teams need to pinpoint the specific SDOH factors that are relevant to a given case. Ward estimates social determinants can account for 60 to 70 percent of total health outcomes, which makes it imperative to identify social support structures, community resources, and other variables that can have a profound effect on health outcomes.
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