How Social Determinants Impact Home Healthcare Market

By Nick Dobrzelecki, MBA, BSN, RN, Managing Partner and co-founder 

Founded by frustrated clinicians, Titan Health Corporation’s mission is to bring healthcare to more people who need it. It sounds simple. But the gaps that exist in the healthcare chain stop health professionals from delivering what is needed to people in all kinds of environments. The home healthcare market is no exception.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) as “the nonmedical factors that influence health outcomes.” They are the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live, and age, as well as economic policies and systems, development agendas, social norms, social policies, and political systems[1].

Shockingly, according to the CDC, zip code can be a stronger predictor of health than genetic code. Research shows that communities of color, populations with a lower socioeconomic status, rural communities, people with cognitive and physical disabilities and individuals who identify as LGBTQ are often disproportionately exposed to conditions and environments that negatively affect health risks and outcomes and lead to higher rates of health disparities.

With an aging population increasingly opting for healthcare-in-place – receiving medical care at home rather than a facility (77% of adults over the age of 50 prefer to age in place[2]) – it’s crucial to understand the unique SDOH challenges faced by this patient group and the home healthcare workers who care for them. For example, imagine a patient recovering from surgery. Living in a food desert with limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables can hinder their healing process. Similarly, social isolation or lack of reliable transportation can make it difficult to adhere to medication schedules or attend follow-up appointments, putting a disproportionate burden on the home health workers’ role.

So, what can the home healthcare market do to address these issues and narrow the gap of healthcare discrimination? Here are a few suggestions:

  • SDOH Screening: Implement standardized screenings to identify patients facing social risk factors.
  • Community Partnerships: Collaborate with social service agencies to connect patients with resources like food pantries, transportation assistance, or mental health services. These partnerships should also include social interaction volunteers, since social isolation and loneliness can lead to depression and worsen existing health conditions[3].
  • Culturally Competent Care: Train home healthcare workers to be sensitive to the diverse needs and backgrounds of patients.
  • Health Education: Include health literacy as part of the home healthcare services, teaching patients the potential outcomes when healthy habits aren’t followed.

The quality and access to healthcare should be the same for every citizen, whether treatment is sought in a hospital, nursing facility, or in the home. By addressing the root causes of health problems, home health providers can contribute to better overall health and potentially reduce hospital readmissions. As the desire for home-based care continues to rise, a holistic approach that considers SDOHs will be essential for ensuring patient satisfaction and successful outcomes.

# # #




Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *