Social Determinants of Health

  • Technology Technology
  • Readingtime icon Read in: 5 mins
  • by: Mckenna Frey

The Social Determinants of Health are defined as “resources, such as food, housing, economic and social relationships, transportation, education and health care, whose distribution across populations effectively determines quality of life” (James S. 2002). Because these factors are not equally distributed throughout the population -primarily among race, class, and sex - health is now understood to have a socially determined component. Research from UnitedHealth Group and OPTUM Health Education says that only 20% of health outcomes can be directly attributed to clinical care, whereas 80% of health and wellbeing is tied to social and economic factors, physical environments, and health behaviors (Social Determinants of Health: A Panel Discussion September 19th, 2019).

Improving health depends on understanding, managing, and supporting access to the resources that individuals and communities need to experience health. These include education, employment, food, housing, economic and social relationships, community safety, as well as health care. Human’s DWELL™ and Micro-Fencing™ are important new tools forunderstanding how individuals live their life and interact with their environment.

Human™ has three components: mobile location tracking, DWELL™, geolocation communications management, Micro-fencing™, and analytics, Present™. Human™ gathers and leverages insights from patient journeys, helps healthcare professionals collect information that leads to positive behavioral changes. These insights and understandings can improve the quality of care, decrease healthcare costs, and lower expenses for consumers. These tools can also link patients in need of non-healthcare social services to sources that can address those needs thereby contributing to the improvement of their quality of life and ultimately, health status.

The primary use of DWELL™ is to closely track patient location, movement, and time spent, so this data can be used to track behavior. For example, data on individual exercise is available both from data like step count and elevation gain, but also by visits to locations related to physical activity, like gyms or parks. If the individual lives in an area with few public parks, it is harder for them to find time and space to exercise. If they have access to parks and gyms, they are able to find more opportunities to walk and exercise. Data describing the cleanliness of the air and safety of the community will also describe the opportunities for healthy living. If patients live in a place with a choice of organic groceries, then advice to make healthier food choices could lead to healthier diets. An electronic medical record that includes this movement and behavior data from DWELL™ could help people get better access to needed social resources impacting care outcomes.

Human’s™ tool Micro-fencing™ uses location and behavior data from DWELL™ to deliver relevant content to consumers at the right place and time. For healthcare, this can include the presence of health care providers, and warning messages based on local criteria. Human™ users can be alerted to the location of primary care offices, services offered, insurance accepted, and even information about wait time. For example, you could get an alert that says, “Sign up today for classes at your neighborhood gym!”, or “Flu shots available here from 10:00am to 5:00pm!”.

Present™ is Human’s™ data analytics package, allowing users to manage Human’s™ data and combine it with external data. With DWELL™, Micro-fencing™ and Present™, system administrators will be able to understand the user’s healthcare-related app use in relation to their everyday activity. Health care payers and providers have a powerful tool for patients, improving patient health care outcomes by giving them access to social resources that may help improve health outcomes.


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