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To help address social needs, or the non-medical barriers to health, more healthcare systems are screening patients for social determinants of health (SDoH).
We at Salud America! at UT Health San Antonio are spotlighting why SDoH screening can be an effective way to improve health outcomes for Latinos and all patients.
Today, we are sharing three more SDoH screening tools – questionnaires that gather information from patients – that may be helpful to your healthcare facility.
Download these screening tools or use them as inspiration to create your own!
For more screening tool options, please read our first list of SDoH screening tools.
The Accountable Health Communities (AHC) Health-Related Social Needs (HRSN) Screening Tool
In a five-year testing period (2017 to 2022), 28 healthcare facilities used this screening tool to explore its impact on Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries’ healthcare costs and outcomes.
The screening tool is available in English and includes questions on patient living situation, food and transportation access, safety within social groups, financial and mental health, and physical activity level.
“Growing evidence shows that if we deal with unmet HRSNs like homelessness, hunger, and exposure to violence, we can help undo their harm to health. Just like with clinical assessment tools, providers can use the results from the HRSN Screening Tool to inform patients’ treatment plans and make referrals to community services,” stated the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, the creators of the tool.
A federal evaluation of the tool’s impact is currently underway.
In a 90-day period, WellRx was used to screen over 3,000 patients for social determinants in three New Mexico family medicine clinics.
The results of this pilot study revealed that WellRx improves health outcomes for patients, especially Medicaid beneficiaries.
“46% of patients screened positive for at least one area of social need, and 63% of those had multiple needs. Most of these needs were previously unknown to the clinicians. Medical assistants and community health workers then offered to connect patients with appropriate services and resources to address the identified needs. The WellRx pilot demonstrated that it is feasible for a clinic to implement such an assessment system, that the assessment can reveal important information, and that having information about patients’ social needs improves provider ease of practice,” stated WellRx researchers.
The 11-question screening tool is available in English and covers topics such as food and housing security, income, education, safety within social groups, and alcohol and drug use.
HealthBegins is a company that helps healthcare leaders develop customized SDoH screening tools to address their community’s social needs.
With a strong focus on the “Upstream Movement” in healthcare, HealthBegins has a team of experienced health professionals ready to assist clients.
“We understand that better health for all begins with equity. And it begins where we live, work, eat, sleep, and play,” stated HealthBegins. “As pioneers in this movement, we work in solidarity with healthcare and community leaders to translate this knowledge to bold action at all levels — from individual social needs to community-wide social determinants to society-wide structural determinants of health.”
Why Screen for Social Determinants of Health (SDoH)?
SDoH are the conditions in which we are born, grow, live, work, and age.
These non-medical barriers to health are called social needs. If not addressed, social needs can cause and worsen health conditions.
“SDoH, including the effects of centuries of racism, are key drivers of health inequities within communities of color,” according to the US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. “The impact is pervasive and deeply embedded in our society, creating inequities in access to a range of social and economic benefits – such as housing, education, wealth, and employment. These inequities put people at higher risk of poor health.”
Fortunately, when patients are screened for social needs at their medical appointments, healthcare providers can identify ways to address those needs and their root causes, ultimately improving health outcomes and reducing healthcare costs.
How Can You Shape Local Social Determinants of Health (SDoH)?
Select your county and get a Health Equity Report Card by Salud America! at UT Health San Antonio.
In your report card, you will see maps, data, and gauges to compare social determinants of health and public health issues to the rest of your state and nation.
You can email your Health Equity Report Card to local leaders to stimulate community change.
You can also Use the data in your materials or share on social media to raise awareness about the importance of SDoH screening.