Social and clinical experts focus on ‘social determinants’ of health

July 9, 2014 in Medical Technology

illustration of social media icons and mediumsJoin IBM and HIMSS Future Care on July 23rd to discuss how social and clinical stakeholders can improve collaboration and patient outcomes. July 9, 2014 AT 12:01 PM

As health IT becomes ubiquitous, providers and policymakers are using it to widen the range of information that is called on to get patients healthy and keep them that way.  One way, for example, is to improve information sharing between the range of providers that are inevitably involved in almost any patient’s care.

Another way, however, involves widening the information net beyond the parameters of traditional health information.  Increasingly, healthcare stakeholders are beginning to look at the so-called “social determinants” of health.  These include the various stresses and circumstances –employment situations, housing conditions, family environment – that may not have a demonstrable impact on any specific condition, but may still contribute, sometimes significantly, to an individual’s or a community’s overall wellness or general state of health.

In a 2013 report from the IBM Cúram Research Institute, entitled  “Addressing social determinants and their impact on healthcare,” researchers noted the importance of healthy citizens around the world. “In the end,” they said succinctly, “the world needs healthy workers to sustain economic vitality.”

With that as the goal, the writers suggested that “changing demands from citizens, increased competition from providers, declining reimbursement rates and a smaller profit margin have created really only one logical response from healthcare providers who want to survive and thrive: improve service and reduce costs by getting smarter. (And) one fundamental way of getting smarter is to address the social determinants of health rather than just the clinical causes of illness.”

On Wednesday, July 23rd, at 12 Noon EST, IBM and HIMSS Future Care will host a Twitter Chat that will take a comprehensive look at the topic of the social determinants of health. Our guests for the Chat, which will be organized under the #futurecare hashtag, will include Martin Duggan (@martingduggan), who leads IBM Industry Solutions’ strategic initiatives relating to Smarter Care Social Programs, and Geeta Nayyar, MD (@gnayyar).  

Bringing to bear their perspectives on both the social and clinical sides of healthcare, Mr. Duggan and Dr. Nayyar will engage in a discussion of a number of questions that will consider where clinical and social program collaboration is most needed, what steps can be taken to get around the “silos” that currently separate clinical and social initiatives, and what new sources and partners outside of healthcare can be tapped to help develop #futurecare delivery goals and systems.

While, naturally, the July 23rd Twitter Chat will last only an hour, the discussion concerning the intersection between clinical and social programs will be continued at much greater length at an IBM Health and Social Programs Summit that will be held on October 19-22, 2014, at the Renaissance Arlington Capital View Hotel, in Washington, DC.

At the Summit, attendees will hear from a broad range of experts who will consider topics such as how Smarter Care programs are improving outcomes and changing lives, as well as what trends are beginning to shape the future of health and social programs.

While the expansion of collaborative relationships beyond the boundaries of traditional healthcare will involve shifting relationships between providers, policymakers and payers, it’s important to remember at all times that the individual – both as patient and as citizen – remains the central focus.  New health IT enables institutional stakeholders to make ever more effective use of data, but just as retailers use data to meet the needs and desires of individual customers, so must providers and policymakers remember that the ultimate outcome remains the best health possible for the individual patient.

We hope you’ll join us at 12 Noon EST on July 23rd as we consider how best to pursue and achieve that outcome.

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