Social determinants of health

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The urgency of addressing social determinants of health

PwC has identified five steps crucial to starting — and succeeding — with a social determinants approach to health strategy.

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Whether you’re a payor, provider or government entity, social determinants are a critical component of healthcare and pharmaceuticals in the twenty-first century.

In our new report, PwC lays out five steps for bold action that organisations can take to lead in a world in which social determinants assume a more prominent role. The research is backed by new results from a global survey conducted by PwC’s Health Research Institute, along with interviews with healthcare leaders and analysis of dozens of case studies.

How to lead in social determinants of health: Five steps for bold action

Build the collective will

Too many healthcare stakeholders aren’t talking about social determinants, as only 43 percent of respondents to a PwC Health Research Institute (HRI) June 2019 global consumer survey said their doctor has even raised the subject with them. Other health workers, such as nurses, pharmacists and dietitians, are talking about it at a much lower level, highlighting the opportunity to involve healthcare workers more broadly. A convener can help bring partners together across the system by demonstrating the long-term benefits to each stakeholder of preventing more illness.

Develop standard but adaptable frameworks

Once they have done the hard work of building coalitions, partners must overcome the everyday challenges of merging disparate workplaces with different missions, incentives and perspectives. Consumers expect that care should be better integrated to create a seamless experience; roughly one-third of consumers asked in the 2019 HRI global consumer survey indicated that there was an opportunity to better connect healthcare and social services.

Generate data insights to inform decision making

Predictive analytics can be used to consider both individual behaviour and the behaviour of populations. Many consumers do feel some individual responsibility to make a change, but 47% of respondents to PwC’s 2019 HRI global consumer survey indicated healthcare providers are not sharing predictions about what healthcare services these patients may need in the future considering their medical history. Even if people find the motivation, they often lack the information or tools to prevent chronic conditions.

Engage and reflect the community

The success of any social determinant of health strategy ultimately depends on the targeted community’s response. Those carrying out the intervention must have the credibility and knowledge to work in the area so they can build trust in the population. Technology also holds significant potential to advance social determinants of health strategies and help healthcare organisations and governments reach rural areas or underserved neighbourhoods. 

Coalitions should also think beyond traditional delivery structures and channels to consider retailers, technology providers, home health workers and educators.

Measure and redeploy

Successful social determinants of health intervention campaigns are exercises in continuous improvement, in which experience, data and insights are gathered and fed back into the system. Feedback enables the development of improved strategies and shows where partners need to build better social determinants of health capabilities or strengthen processes.

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Contact us

Quentin Cole

UK Government and Health Industries Leader, Partner, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0) 7770 303 846

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