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Wellsource Blog

The Power of Health Risk Assessment Data in SDoH Programs

Written by Alyssa Carter, Director of Marketing at Wellsource

May 27, 2020

What can we learn about Social Determinants of Health (SDoH) from health risk assessment data? It’s a question that my colleague, Dr. Brittany U. Carter, Health and Research Director at Wellsource, discussed recently in the live webinar, “Social Determinants of Health: Insights from Health Risk Assessment Data,” hosted by the National Wellness Institute.

I had the chance to listen in and field questions during Brittany’s presentation, and was so excited by the engagement from the audience and the way our industry is working to better understand Social Determinants of Health. In this post, I’ll provide a quick recap and some of my key takeaways from the webinar. But first, what are SDoH?

Social determinants of health are the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, and age. These conditions are used to explain health disparities, or preventable differences in health outcomes experienced by socially disadvantaged groups, recognizing that a person’s social and economic conditions have an impact on their health.  In fact, it’s been shown that an individuals’ health and wellbeing are largely influenced by social determinants of health—as much as 70%.

One of my favorite moments from the webinar was an illustrative example of how a person’s context – where they live, their access to food, their income, education, and social support – can all impact their long-term health.  Here’s a short clip from the webinar:


What I like about this breakdown of SDoH is the way it illustrates how layered and complex health and wellness can be. It shows how recognizing a few factors about a person’s life – say, a person’s social support, or the air quality in their city – can give you an idea of health risks a person is facing.

In a way, this illustration is also heartening. It means that making a few small changes can cause lasting changes in a person’s health for the better! And isn’t that the ultimate goal for all of us as population health professionals?

But how do we capture this information, and how do we ensure that it’s accurate? The answer all lies within the data. Here are three of my takeaways from the webinar on you can ensure you’re capturing SDoH data to inform your population health interventions.

  1. There is value in analyzing your data for both direct and indirect insights into a person’s health. Indirect inferences gathered by a quality HRA are informed by direct evidence and valuable to gaining that full picture of total wellbeing.
  2. Any strategy that addresses SDoH has to start and end with the data. A data-driven framework to address social determinants of health centers on getting a full picture of your population’s health, deploying programs that are personalized and targeted, and collecting follow up data to measure success and improve.
  3. Personalized approaches to wellness programs depend on a wide dataset, and the quality of that dataset is crucial. As shared in the webinar by Erica Morgenstern, Chief Communications Officer at Welltok, understanding the full picture of a person’s wellness can mean drawing from multiple data sources, such as claims data, census data, and self-reported, consumer data. Using technology to help you gather, analyze, and make informed decisions is key to improvement population health.

Interested in learning more about this topic? View the webinar recording here, or download the Wellsource Annual Data Report, “Getting the Full Picture of Wellness: HRA Data and SDoH”.

2nd Annual Data Review: Social Determinants of Health

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Social Determinants of Health illustrate how layered and complex health and wellness can be. Recognizing a few factors about a person’s life – say, a person’s social support, or the air quality in their city – can give you an idea of health risks a person is facing.

Alyssa Carter, Director of Marketing Wellsource