Addressing Social Needs to Achieve Health Equity

Addressing Social Needs to Achieve Health Equity

The WHO defines Health inequities are systematic differences in the health status of different population groups. These widespread, avoidable differences are the result of unfair systems that negatively affect people’s living conditions, access to healthcare, and overall health status. These inequities have significant social and economic costs both to individuals and societies. Health inequities primarily affect people in many ways such as  lower life expectancy, higher rates of mental ill-health, difficulty getting healthcare, and preventable death.

What are the factors of Health Inequity?

The social, economic, and environmental factors such as housing, employment, health literacy, etc. which can be categorized as Social Determinants of Health (SDOH)—are seen to have an indirect but significant impact on health equity and outcomes . So the best possible way to advance health equity is by focusing on the SDOH needs of all community members. Interestingly, factors outside of a clinical setting have a greater impact on health outcomes than the care provided by clinicians.

Role of Community Based Organizations

Non profit groups such as Community Based Organizations (CBOs) aim for building  equality  across society in all streams. Governments are increasingly delegating responsibilities and relying on them for identifying concerns, developing, planning and helping deliver solutions. There is so much good work going on in communities because of their existence,  and most importantly the capacity of community-based organizations to absorb health system patient referrals for unmet social needs is exemplary. But gaps in access and opportunities to quality care do exist.

Mutual existence of  healthcare organizations and community organizations

To ensure that the community’s health needs are met effectively and efficiently just one sector or one organization is not enough. It takes multiple partners to work together. It is a holistic approach where health care providers consider patients’ social, economic, and environmental factors in addition to their medical history when providing care, while  Community organizations  play a crucial role in promoting health and wellness by educating the public and providing resources and support. Hence leveraging partnerships with CBOs  and more ecosystem partners to healthcare for delivering Value Based Care.

Embracing technology for interlinking

Clinical and social services should be integrated and easily accessible to patients in order to improve health outcomes. Explore technology options to facilitate connections between partners, improve coordination, and build a network of CBOs to address drivers of health. Electronic referrals to CBOs using digital platforms are relatively new, but there’s an opportunity to continue developing them as a key component of an effective ecosystem for improving health outcomes. It seamlessly facilitates communication and data sharing between healthcare organizations and community organizations, and to improve access to services.

Equipo platform

Care coordination network that integrates healthcare with social services is the most effective and sustainable method for implementing closed-loop referrals. Equipo platform takes advantage of technology to enable real-time closed-loop referrals. Equipo SDOH Assessment tool  provides healthcare providers access to a patient’s social, economic, and environmental factors that can impact their health. By integrating this data with clinical data  providers can get a more comprehensive understanding of a patient’s needs and develop more effective and personalized care plans. Additionally, the platform helps patients connect with their healthcare providers and other support systems, through social referrals for addressing both their clinical and social needs.