The focus on social determinants of health on the GovWebworks blog has lead us on an illumating journey. The following three articles look at how government agencies can access the power of online tools, such as CiviServ, to improve social determinants.

Let us know if you have any questions!


Targeting Social Determinants of Health

Why Idaho’s online service discovery tool can improve health

We may not yet have a machine that can sniff potential illness, as recently detailed in a New York Times article on the topic. However, according to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP), many of the factors that influence health are not medical.

For instance, social determinants of health. These standards of living exist apart from medical care and are influenced by social policies. This makes them a more immediate way for states to improve well being and reduce health care costs.

However, every state struggles with how to foster well being among citizens. Which services will have the biggest impact? How to change habits? And so on. With all of the issues and variables, improving an individual's social circumstances can feel like a hopeless endeavor.

In our work with the Live Better Idaho (LBI) program, we've seen a valuable example of how innovation in providing service awareness to citizens can lead to healthier lives. We believe the LBI tool, which aligns with the ODPHP's Healthy People 2020 (HP2020) initiatives concerning social determinants of health, is a meaningful step toward improving outcomes.



Wholistic Solutions for Improving Social Determinants of Health

When agencies and organizations work together, better solutions can provide better outcomes

The fact that “the United States spends more on health care than any other nation in the world, yet it ranks poorly on nearly every measure of health status,” was brought to the spotlight in 2007 by Steven Schroeder, M.D. His impactful talk, “We Can Do Better – Improving the Health of the American People” was a call for change. Yet, a decade later, despite the work of many, this reality stands firm.

One of the more promising efforts towards change is the focus on social determinants of health (SDH), the lifestyle factors that have immediate impact on the health of individuals, as discussed in a recent post on the topic. Studies show (Figure 1) that as a determinant of overall health, medical care influences only around 10 percent of the outcome, while other factors such as behavior come in at nearly 40 percent, and socioeconomic status at 20 percent.

The valuable work around improving SDH for citizens is part of an encouraging trend toward prevention. Such action is far preferable to costly, and last-minute, emergency room treatment. However, the best path forward for agencies and organizations looking to offer help is not always clear.



From Single Cause to Macro Solution

How online innovation can bring the right services to more people

Reflecting our work with health and human services, we’ve been looking at the role of social determinants in health outcomes. The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion’s Healthy People 2020 and other organizations are championing a preventative approach to health care with efforts to positively impact social determinants of health (SDH). In this effort, we believe agencies can work together to have more impact.

However, when reviewing the public RFPs that are issued every month, we see many outreach projects in support of a single cause or issue. Why, we wonder, don’t agencies pool together to provide a single resource for at risk populations?