Screening and responding to social determinants of health

Healthcare providers must screen for and measure SDOH to move towards health equity, but challenges in standardization and alignment lie ahead.
Focus on health disparities

The disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on specific populations highlighted the importance of measuring social determinants of health (SDOH) for comprehensive patient care.

Unfortunately, these health disparities – occurrences of illness, injury, or mortality in one population group relative to another – are not new.

Now, stakeholders across the healthcare industry are asking what can be done to move the dial towards achieving health equity – whereby all individuals have the opportunity to achieve their best health in the places they live, work, and age.1

Our latest white paper, Focus on health disparities: Screening and responding to SDOH, authored by IMO’s Director of Government and Standards Ann D. Phillips, MHA, explores the next steps required to help capture and utilize these important health metrics.

Not sure what factors make up SDOH? Get up to speed with this excerpt from the white paper:

While there are many factors involved, SDOH are the primary economic and social conditions – the non-clinical drivers – that contribute to differences in health equity. The Healthy People 2030 project, developed by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP), identifies the following examples of SDOH:

  • Safe housing, transportation, and neighborhoods
  • Racism, discrimination, and violence
  • Education, job opportunities, and income
  • Polluted air and water
  • Language and literacy skills
  • Access to nutritious foods and physical activity opportunities

The project classifies SDOH into five priority domains to categorize conditions in the environment that affect health, functioning, quality of life, health outcomes, and risks:

  • Economic Stability
  • Education Access and Quality
  • Health Care Access and Quality
  • Neighborhood and Built Environment
  • Social and Community Context

To learn more about the intricacies of not only identifying, categorizing, and analyzing SDOH data but generating information that is interoperable, measurable, and actionable:

1 World Health Organization. A Conceptual Framework for Action on the Social Determinants of Health. Accessed via:

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