Many aspects of a patient’s life affect their overall health. Because of this, screening for social determinants of health (SDOH) is a key way to learn that information. Changing the perspective to patient factors like food insecurity and housing allows physicians to see the entire person rather than simply the medical conditions they have.
While many clinics like FQHCs routinely conduct SDOH screenings, others have not yet implemented a good system to start collecting them. Some choose to collect them, but in suboptimal ways that don’t adequately act upon the data they receive. If your practice collects SDOH or plans to in the future, here are 4 ways to enhance the screenings you conduct.
Create a List of Resources for Patients
If a patient suggests during an SDOH screening that they are struggling to stay fed, one of the best ways to support their health is to have a pre-established list of food banks to present to them. As such, designate a contact at your practice to build and continuously grow a list of resources to assist your patients with any foreseeable issues you learn about from their screenings. Remember: some issues won’t simply be fixed by a prescription or routine visit, and you must acknowledge that to improve the patient’s overall wellbeing. Helping Americans Find Help is a good resource to find local charities and agencies, so that might be a good place to start your list.
Obtain Physician Feedback
Never go on a hunch regarding how to develop a successful SDOH program. Physician feedback is vital to learn how to best structure all of the SDOH data into the EHR. They have valuable input on how to best present the information, which will help improve the clinic workflow. Since their time is limited with the patients, this aspect of SDOH gathering is the key to efficiency. By starting there, you will have a solid foundation for expanding the program.
Screen Every Patient
While it’s tempting to only screen those who seem more likely to be enduring socioeconomic issues, this isn’t the best way to gather SDOH data. Before patients see a physician at your practice, make it routine that all of them fill out SDOH screeners to cover your bases. Annual wellness visits are another perfect opportunity to gather SDOH. Since patient’s lives change at any given time and they don’t always wear their life stories on their sleeves, it’s important to be mindful of this.
Enable Technology to Streamline the SDOH Screening Workflow
One of the easiest ways to conduct SDOH screenings is to do so digitally when the patient is filling out their intake forms. Software like DocResponse has health screeners that seamlessly integrate into EHRs, improving accuracy, reducing double entry, and saving time. Another benefit of choosing digital screeners is that the patient is more likely to answer honestly from their home, as opposed to a doctor’s office where they might feel embarrassed about who will see their answers.
If you’re interested in software to help enhance your SDOH program, schedule a demo to learn more about how DocResponse helps clinics gather the data they need, and even more importantly, ensures that your patients will better obtain the attention and care that they need.