For generations healthcare focused largely on treating the sick or injured as a means of improving a population’s health. More recently however, healthcare professionals are realizing the importance of addressing the underlying causes of disease to best prevent health disparities and promote health. Research suggests that many of these underlying causes of poor health are influenced by the Social Determinants of Health.
According to the CDC, Social Determinants of Health (often abbreviated to SDOH) refers to the “conditions in the places where people live, learn, work, and play that affect a wide range of health risks and outcomes”. These social determinants cover a broad range of social, economic, and environmental factors that all shape an individual’s behaviors and health risks. A strong example of a SDOH that influences an individual’s health prospects is poverty.
While a lack of financial resources alone may seem unrelated to a person’s health, the correlation between poverty and poor health is apparent. Poverty limits a person’s housing options, usually to neighborhoods with poor health outcomes. Low income neighborhoods often include outdated housing infrastructure which increases an occupant’s risk for asthma and other respiratory problems. Additionally low income neighborhoods frequently suffer from a concept known as “food deserts” where there are few or no healthy food options within the neighborhood. This lack of access to healthy meals leads to an increase in obesity, diabetes, and hypertension within these food deserts.
Another crucial SDOH is education. Higher levels of education strongly correlate to improved health outcomes. Studies by the Kaiser Family Foundation show that the longer an individual stays in school the more opportunities he/she will experience. Education leads to higher literacy rates and stronger language capacity which in turn opens up career opportunities. Furthermore, completing high school has been shown to improve a student’s health knowledge compared to those who do not graduate from high school. High school grads are more likely to understand the importance of exercising regularly and eating well balanced meals as a means of promoting their personal health.
Given their influence on population health, addressing social determinants of health can have a wide reaching and positive influence in promoting population health. As a population health management company, Fitango Health realizes the ripple effect of SDOH regarding community health. That’s why Fitango Health is proud to announce it’s new SDOH component. Through the Fitango Health platform users can now not only monitor their health data but also access a wealth of resources that target various SDOHs. The SDOH feature caters specifically to a member’s health needs and identifies resources within a member’s own local community. This is just another way Fitango Health is extending care beyond the point of care.