Technology company Change Healthcare has launched a new resource that includes services and a data analytics platform to help healthcare providers connect clinical care with socioeconomic factors affecting a person’s health.
The resource, Social Determinants of Health Analytics, has three components, Tim Suther, senior vice president and general manager, data solutions at Change Healthcare, said in a phone call.
The first component is an analytics service where Change Healthcare will help providers identify the social determinants of health that are most important for the communities they serve. Providers can select any subset of their patient population that they want to study, and Change Healthcare analysts will help them drill down and identify the social factors that have the biggest impact on the health of that subset. This can help providers make decisions regarding which social factors to analyze and address first for the populations they serve, Suther said.
“No health system has unlimited resources, so understanding whether it’s economic vulnerabilities or transportation access or education literacy — knowing [what factors most affect] your patient population can help you prioritize amongst a sea of choices,” he said.
The second component is an EHR enhancement service, which helps providers fill in gaps in their system regarding social determinants of health that specifically affect their patient population. Change Healthcare can help provide any missing data on those social factors.
The third component is giving providers access to a data analytics platform that they can use to examine trends and understand the socioeconomic risks facing the populations they serve. The platform provides a secure, hosted environment and access to claims data collected by Change Healthcare for health system data teams to conduct their own analyses. Providers can also add data specific to their facilities.
“When I got into healthcare about four years ago, it really surprised me how poorly most healthcare systems and plans capture information outside the clinical setting,” Suther said. “So here we have this circumstance [of life] that really has a significant impact on the quality of our health that wasn’t being captured very well, and if it’s not being captured very well, then you can’t do much with it. So what we are trying to do is to reliably connect what happens in the doctor’s office, in the hospital, with the rest of [a patient’s] life.”
By offering the new resource, Change Healthcare aims to help providers improve the health and wellbeing of the patients they serve as well as optimize their community health partnerships, Suther added.
Another benefit is the potential for increasing reimbursement, as many providers are subject to quality ratings that affect the payment they receive. Some providers, however, serve populations that face greater socioeconomic challenges than others and as a result have poorer health outcomes. By gaining a deeper understanding of those challenges and addressing them, providers can potentially improve their quality ratings and thereby increase their reimbursement, Suther said.
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