The idea that much of an individual’s health is determined by social factors – such as income, education, housing, race, and environment – has permeated the the public health landscape for years. The refrain, ‘one’s ZIP Code is more important than one’s genetic code’, has become common among public health researchers when discussing health outcomes. This is due to the distribution of social resources and health challenges throughout communities.

Partial List of Social Determinants of Health

More recently, payers, providers, and others have tried to better understand how these so-called “social determinants of health” work in tandem with clinical factors in order to improve people’s health and reduce healthcare expenditures. Recently, the Department of Health and Human Services released a report along with the independent non-profit Center for Open Data Enterprise (CODE) detailing how public and private partners can work together to leverage social data for the good of population health. Based upon the recommendations outlined in their CODE Report, HSR.health is well-positioned to advance social determinants of health research towards providing holistic solutions to health issues that are influenced by social factors.

The GeoHealth Platform Helps Achieve the CODE Report’s Goals

The CODE Report suggests that open source assessment tools should be aligned and improved for ease of use. HSR.health has developed a GeoHealth Platform – a health-focused spatial data infrastructure (SDI) that aggregates, maps, and makes available for analysis social data so health systems don’t have to. Our expertise in geospatial analyses on health and social data facilitates identification and problem-solving processes for hospitals and communities so they can better focus their resources. The GeoHealth Platform will also help address the CODE report’s concern about the standardization of data formats and definitions. Through continued use of our SDI, metadata will be generated that helps to establish standards based upon usage.

The Report also touches on the importance of aligning payments to facilitate the collection of social determinant data. Once proper payment policy for these data is established, HSR.health can aid in alignment through consistent data sharing amongst various parties in the payment structure. The GeoHealth Platform has the potential to shine with regards to the CODE Reports recommendation to strengthen data-gathering capacities. Because of how the GeoHealth Platform combines and stores data, it has the ability to track trends in social data and the interventions on these factors that can produce improved health outcomes and costs. Finally, the report recommends that health systems should produce hyper-local snapshots of their communities based on these data. This is what HSR.health has sought to do since day one! The GeoHealth Platform collects, stores, and analyzes data at a variety of levels – from national to state to census tract. Through analyses at these various scales, we can better understand the health needs of people based on their context. HSR.health is ready and able to lead the charge on creating actionable processes around social data to improve people’s health and save on healthcare expenditures.

For more information on the GeoHealth Platform or to schedule a demo, please contact Paul A Churchyard by email or at 240-731-0756.