The common saying is that your ZIP code is more important than your genetic code.
In short, where you live is important in your health risks and outcomes. But he shouldn’t. COVID-19 paid much more attention to the long-standing health inequalities in our communities. We better understand vaccination rates, hospitalizations, and deaths based on your ZIP code. He also identified gaps in the care and treatment of many health conditions.
Hopefully, knowledge of technology and data is being used to address health inequalities, prevent care biases, and ultimately help improve overall outcomes in all communities. The strategic design, development and deployment of health techquity or technology enables providers to advance health equity by looking beyond clinical factors to get a complete picture of key health indicators. Understanding a person’s social risk factors gives physicians the ability to provide equitable, person-centered care and informs them of overall treatment planning.
For example, the Oracle Cerner Determinants of Health solution helps organizations advance the care of the whole person by identifying and intervening in social risk factors through action-oriented community analytics and social determinants of health competencies embedded in care management workflows.
Lack of standardized data collection, incomplete data, and limited resources and tools create barriers to properly understanding and responding to the needs of populations. Using community social risk knowledge, along with EHR data and geospatial capabilities, it is possible to identify areas of greatest social risk, such as transportation barriers, air quality, and food access, from a region drilled into a census block group. These perspectives provide key details on population health, care management, and community health groups with key details about the risks that patient populations may face from social, economic, and environmental risks in order to develop targeted interventions.
These stronger links to health-affecting social needs are being improved by technology and data, both for individuals and for the entire population. As a world leader in healthcare technology, Oracle Cerner has compelling examples of how data in the U.S. and around the world promotes more equitable health care:
University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center: A screening tool allowed the hospital to better manage the correlation between harmful social determinants and poor health outcomes in the diabetic population and those with other chronic conditions. The results led to the hiring of primary care clinics and community health workers for emergencies. All patients can be examined to identify and address important social risks.
Roper St. Francis Healthcare South Carolina: Using geospatial modeling, the system found that patients at risk for diabetes and hypertension were gathered in an African American church. In collaboration with church leaders (some of them nurses) the health system developed wellness programs, prevention strategies, and health examinations. The result: the population’s risk levels fell by 50%.
NHS in the UK: Data from 2020 showed that people with learning difficulties are six times more likely to be hospitalized with the flu than the general population. One solution: Open flu vaccine clinics, adapted for people with learning disabilities, grew by 92% of the population.
Middle Eastern schools – A Middle Eastern country is using data to make healthy decisions for all its citizens! The government adjusted school menus, decided where to put gyms and where not to put fast food chains based on diabetes prevention.
These examples of healthcare technology are a multi-stakeholder effort. We all need to heal our communities and create an equitable path to better health. At Oracle Cerner, we have partnered with more than 50 organizations to focus on health equity and the social determinants of health innovation. These are not just healthcare IT leaders: they are hospital administrators, clinicians, social workers, care managers, and population health leaders in an effort to improve the living conditions of patients who share successes and challenges.
The use of helpful tools and data knowledge allows caregivers and care teams to spend more time with patients. And techquity helps patients get the care they need by knowing where they are so that they can enjoy a healthy life.
This story was originally published in HLTH.