Social Determinants of Health

Thought Leadership  |  22 February 2023  |  By Auren Steve Weinberg, MD, MBA

People who work in healthcare have long known that the conditions around us can have a major impact on health. I vividly recall going to a “Lead Clinic” during my training to see children who were at risk for or already impacted by lead exposure in their environment. We used to refer to these conditions as part of Socioeconomic Status or SES. We accepted this as a risk factor that was difficult to control.

In the past few decades, the spotlight has shined brighter on these factors, and we now call them Social Determinants of Health or SDOH. The World Health Organization defines these conditions around us as “the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live and age, and the wider set of forces and systems shaping the conditions of daily life.” As we push to get the world healthier, SDOH have been recognized as a major contributor to health.

Five domains of SDOH

There are five areas of SDOH:

  • Economic stability
  • Education access and quality
  • Healthcare access and quality
  • Neighborhood and built environment, and
  • Social and community context.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services created an initiative called Healthy People 2030 which has the goal to “create social, physical, and economic environments that promote attaining the full potential for health and well-being for all.”

My training program worked in collaboration with Reach Out and Read to try to address one small area of SDOH by giving an age-appropriate book to each toddler and school age child at their well visit. While this may not have reduced illiteracy in the community at a statistically significant level, perhaps it improved the lives of a few families. Even if not, seeing the smiles on the faces of parents and children was priceless.


COVID-19 put even greater stress on those challenged with SDOH. A health plan I worked for partnered with the state Department of Public Welfare to host COVID-19 vaccination clinics for disabled patients. Applause erupted multiple times during these clinics because the patients were so grateful. Many patients told stories of the isolation and stress they experienced during the pandemic, and we worked to connect them to community resources.

Giving back

I have been extremely fortunate to work for companies that understand the impact of SDOH on health and have been willing to act to improve SDOH. Veradigm is no exception. Staff members are encouraged to “give back” to our communities; we have a forum where we can share our efforts and sign up for initiatives supported by our Veradigm peers. Veradigm’s products also allow healthcare providers and researchers to look at the impact of SDOH on health. We can use our patient data to answer questions such as whether patients with a diagnosis of food insecurity are more likely to have a diagnosis of depression or whether children in certain zip codes are more likely to have lead poisoning.

We invite healthcare providers and researchers to partner with us at Veradigm to impact SDOH and work toward the Healthy People 2030 goal of “full potential health and well-being for all.”

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Veradigm   Social Determinants of Health   Healthy People 2030   Giveback  

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