SDoH Success Factors: Partners, Data, Outcomes

What are big challenges with systematizing data collection and analysis around SDoH data? SDoH data entails more complexity than other types of data. First, the fact basis and measurability can be much more ambiguous than some types of clinical data. For instance, consider height and weight in contrast to dis- tance to closest grocery store (from where?), health literacy level, or past trauma. Second, the utility and value of the data is less proven. Third, a great deal of SDoH information isn’t in digital form, greatly inhibiting data access and exchange. There are technical means to accelerate, but we’re not there yet.

How do organizations align, collaborate, and glean value from the data? Alignment requires key stakeholders to find common ground across respective missions, identify mutual partnership ben- efit and agree on specific data initiatives. In the case of SDoH, stakeholders are quite varied and may include non-profits, ancil- lary healthcare providers, even religious or neighborhood organizations. I created FAST Goals MethodologyTM to quickly align stake- holders and find that common ground, that joint purpose. It addresses alignment of people and organizations along with their objectives, capabilities, data, and technology. When alignment is done well, operational- ization becomes easier and value creation is accelerated.

Where do we start?

Even with alignment of purpose, a single organization, or a heterogeneous group such as described above, still must create a line of sight to a viable, tangible business case or mission-based value (for non-profits and community organizations). Many SDoH pro- grams struggle with this, with clarity (mea- surability) of outcome goals, return on invest- ment, and what consumers most need. Our solution, WholeCare+ straddles the grand intent of leveraging SDoH data for good with an immediate, concrete opportunity offered by CMS’ special benefits incentivization. It captures various aspects of SDoH – like

member preferences and self-advocacy levels, to help health plans design benefit offerings. While curated for this specific purpose, this data can be used to determine longer-term SDoH levers and strategies.

What data management tips could help avoid pitfalls on this journey?

Success with alignment and business case definition will still falter if data capture, interoperability and operationalized deci- sion intelligence are not well executed. Here are two tips for avoiding pitfalls. First, talk consistently with your data partners and tech- nologists by creating operational definitions. These are clear and concise definitions that, when used by different people, still yield the same result. For instance, does “smoking history” mean “yes/no” or “start date, stop date, how much.” Operational definitions help avoid the problem where people think they are talking about the same thing, but they aren’t. Second, be prepared for getting value from sparse and skewed data sets (even when the volume of responses to a survey, for instance, is high). Thoughtful sampling, con- tinuous discovery (borrowing from Design and Lean Startup toolkits), and coupling statistical with logical and causal analysis should all be part of your repertoire.

What will the landscape be like in a few years? The organizational landscape will continue to shift as different players stake out their roles. Rather than speculate on those specifics, I’ll focus on a critical success factor for all: to cre- ate business and digital solutions that can be composed and recomposed rapidly, allowing us to adapt and flex together, and address ever-evolving, and fast-changing consumer needs, expectations, and opportunities. In my organization, we consider patterns of align- ment and scenario planning when creating accelerators and implementing custom solu- tions for core capabilities or interoperability. This is taking a systems view, and those who do so – service providers, platform builders, digital startups and custom solution build- ers – will shape the landscape ahead of us.

Jeannine Siviy

Director of Healthcare Solutions SDLC Partners

Jeannine is a business and technology strategist who recognizes undiscovered possibilities and spearheads paths of prac- tical innovation - cutting through complex- ity and ambiguity, and delivering value at speed, at scale. A global thought leader on mission-driven improvement, she is expert in marrying solution engineering and process transformation with market trends to cre- ate breakthroughs. She leads SDLC Partners’ Healthcare Solutions, where she and her team envision “Healthier Lives via Frictionless Healthcare” and passionately address per- sistent digital health ecosystem challenges – with one solution earning a Gartner Hype Cycle mention. She previously held leader- ship and technical roles at UPMC, Carnegie Mellon’s Software Engineering Institute, and Eastman Kodak Company. She holds engineering degrees from Purdue and RIT, and CalTech’s certificate in Technology & Innovation Management. A Pittsburgh native, she enjoys its cultural diversity and has a long-standing passion for nature and animals.

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