Have you ever asked yourself, I wonder if I have developed certain traits due to where I grew up, the foods I ate, the people I associated with, the jobs I took, and the education I received (or lack of)? These are considered Social Determinants of Health (SDoH), complex and interconnected variables widely acknowledged as main drivers of health disparities and inequities.1 Many of these factors directly impact all aspects of a patient’s care, especially true in Alzheimer’s development.
A study published in JAMA Network Open found that neighborhood shortcoming is a significant social determinant of health.2 A given neighborhood can have implications on future education, current income, lack of employment, and underprivileged housing conditions. Although further studies are needed due to the low study sample size, this analysis showed that increasing neighborhood shortcomings are linked to an increase in the probability of Alzheimer’s disease-related brain changes.
This study, the first of its kind, is anticipating countless other studies that may further examine the interplay between social factors and fundamental biology.2 Finding a way to get patients increased access to Alzheimer’s disease research center brain bank services can be beneficial, as only 56% of the United States (U.S.) population live within 100 miles of a National Institute on Aging-affiliated Alzheimer’s disease research center.
Several resources exist that could help patients seek the care they need. First would be to use our electronic health record (EHR) to take advantage of our partnership with Lyft to deliver on-demand and scheduled patient transportation to and from appointments. Next, Medicare Advantage plans have been authorized to cover non-medical benefits. In addition, large commercial payers are making investments to help patients with food, transportation, and housing.3
Making time to talk to your patients about SDoH factors is very important, but sometimes time can be a restraint. Taking advantage of automated solutions for leveraging SDoH data can save administration time for care managers by pre-populating patient data and automating SDoH needs assessments.4 Consider printing educational resources, when available, to provide to your patients. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has done extensive research with a variety of material that is readily accessible.
Veradigm® can help generate real world evidence that is actionable and meaningful to a discussion concerning social determinants in Alzheimer’s disease. Uncovering the right data and leveraging analytics can help both providers and patients. For more information on how SDoH may impact your patients, read Social Determinants of Health, Chronic Conditions, and Provider Specialties: A Retrospective Electronic Health Record-Derived Analysis.