How Using Social Determinants of Health in Tandem With Clinical Data Can Benefit Pharmacies
Pharmacy Times® interviewed Rich Morino, senior director of health care solutions at LexisNexis, on how using social determinants of health in tandem with clinical data can benefit pharmacies by supporting earlier disease detection and more comprehensive and sustainable patient management.
The discussion included why understanding social determinants of health in relation to clinical data is important for pharmacies to consider; why social determinants of health are specifically important in relation to chronic care patients and those at risk of chronic conditions; why cancer diagnoses in the United States in August were down 30% from the same month last year; and how understanding social determinants of health may help to fix the issue.
Morino explained that research has shown that approximately 50% of Americans either postponed or cancelled care as a result of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
“They are scared that going into a facility would be more likely to expose them to COVID-19. So, the risk-reward in their eyes became unbalanced, and they felt that going undiagnosed or not attending those preventative screenings was a better gamble than going in for COVID-19 [exposure],” Morino said. “I think that people are still lagging now. I think that the people who initially had skepticism and concerns are waiting for post-COVID-19.”
These delays in preventative screenings due to postponing appointments will cause serious problems to the health outcome of patients and the health care system’s ability to effectively support them in the future, Morino explained.
“If you're a woman and you're going for breast cancer screening, and we spot you at stage one, you have a 5-year 99% survival rate. At stage five, it's going to only be at 27%. So, it's imperative that we get the message out that it's safe to come on in,” Morino said.
However, he noted that there are silver linings to the upheaval that the pandemic has brought to the health care system.
“If we look at the silver linings of the pandemic, the first one typically quoted is the 10-year leap in the adoption and spread of telehealth during this pandemic. When you look at social determinants of health, what you really need to look at is: Who are those individuals who are at risk and not engaged. You want to find the people who are unmotivated to participate in care naturally, and then you want to find out why they're unmotivated to come on in,” Morino said.
He explained that if the issue is that these individuals are socially isolated and lacking transportation, then providers can arrange for non-emergency transportation and can have drugs sent by mail order to still allow them access to health care.
“I've seen several retail pharmacies do a very good job at that, but we need to identify the why,” Morino said. “We need to find out if they don't have that connectivity, maybe they don't have a smartphone, or they don't have internet access. So, it's those people that we really need to identify so we can help them.”
Morino also discussed what pharmacists can do to draw patients back into the system right now, how implementing this practice of considering social determinants of health in relation to clinical data in pharmacies could potentially be beneficial even following the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, and what the value of the pharmacist is in managing patient care during the COVID-19 pandemic.