As healthcare organizations have come to understand the value of social determinants of health data, there still remains a need for guidance on how to ethically operationalize it. For this reason, eHealth Initiative orchestrated the development of guiding principles as part of a cross-industry collaborative with over 50 public and private healthcare stakeholders such as America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), Johnson & Johnson, LexisNexis® Risk Solutions and Mayo Clinic. The final recommendations published by eHi were for traditional and non-traditional healthcare entities, as well as social and governmental entities, to utilize social determinants of health insights in accordance with the following principles:

  1. Care Coordination—Identify individuals with SDOH needs, coordinate and deliver more holistic care and connections to additional interventions or services
  2. Recognize Risk Through SDOH Analytics—Identify risk through the use of analytic tools, in order to develop population health management interventions for individuals and communities
  3. Map Community Resources and Identify Gaps—Assess individual SDOH needs against available community resources to identify gaps that address health and wellness
  4. Conduct Service and Impact Assessments—Assess impact of SDOH interventions and services
  5. Use SDOH as a Tool for Customizing Health Services and Interventions—Use SDOH as a guide for quality discussions with individuals, or their designated guardians, and caregivers to jointly decide which services and interventions are the best fit

As the benefits of addressing Social Determinants of Health become further substantiated and data insights become more mainstream, it is important that as an industry we address ethical use and transparency.