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Social Determinants of Health in Healthcare IT Standards

Social determinants of health, as defined by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, are the conditions in the environments where people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship, and age that affect a wide range of health, functioning, and quality-of-life outcomes and risks. Over the past few years, the role that social determinants of health (SDOH) plays in healthcare and health outcomes has become widely recognized throughout all aspects of the healthcare industry. As such, organizations in the United States and around the world have highlighted the need for SDOH information to be included in a patient’s health record to better treat the patient on a holistic basis, using a more “whole-person” approach to healthcare.

How Does SDOH Impact Health Outcomes?

SDOH can have direct impact on both individuals and populations, affecting medication adherence (due to limited access or ability to pay), nutritional needs, and overall healthcare outcomes. It is important to note that SDOH plays a key role in health equity, which is defined as “creating a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible and removing obstacles to health stemming from socio-demographic factors like poverty and discrimination.” This intersects with SDOH since removing obstacles to advance health equity includes increasing access to education, housing, safe environments, and healthcare.

Social Determinants of Health in Healthcare IT Standards - Health IT Answers

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