How Social Determinants of Health Affect Healthcare Technology

By Carly Duncan | April 5, 2022

Social determinants of health are having a dynamic impact on healthcare technologies. As the healthcare industry as a whole comes to better understand how these non-medical factors are impacting the health of people worldwide, healthcare technologies have been adapting to help address social determinants of health.

What Are Social Determinants of Health?

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, “Social determinants of health (SDOH) are the conditions in the environments where people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship, and age that affect a wide range of health, functioning, and quality-of-life outcomes and risks.” SDOH divide into five categories:

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


Business Insider explains, 

Social determinants of health (SDOH) are non-medical, economic and environmental conditions that both directly and indirectly impact one’s health, like access to transportation and nutritious food. SDOH analytics show that these conditions influence health inequities and have a massive effect on population health outcomes.

While care received in medical facilities can account for approximately 10% to 20% of health outcomes, the remaining 80% to 90% can be attributed to SDOH. 

As a result of this emerging understanding, healthcare providers are increasingly including social determinants of health in screenings, and recently the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued guidance to state health officials designed to drive the adoption of strategies that address the social determinants of health in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) so states can further improve beneficiary health outcomes, reduce health disparities, and lower overall costs in Medicaid and CHIP. 

How Technology Can Be Used in Tackling the Social Determinants of Health

As discussed above, healthcare technology has begun to address social determinants of health. Business Insider writes, “Tech and digital health companies are leveraging their computing power to help healthcare incumbents comprehend and address SDOH data. Digital platforms and SDOH screening tools can help healthcare players engage with patients, aggregate data in a central spot, and leverage algorithms to craft personalized interventions.” 

Here are a few examples of social determinants of health intersecting with technology:

Patient Screening

Asking the right questions in the right ways is crucial to screening for social determinants of health. Technologies like smartwatches can help gather data, as can a number of phone- or web-based applications.


Extracting data from medical records or insurance claims and communicating it to doctors and patients can also be very helpful in addressing social determinants of health. In discussing tech solutions to SDOH issues, Business Insider writes, “Google released its machine learning-enabled Healthcare Natural Language API in November 2019, which can be used to take SDOH data and turn it into actionable insights for doctors.”

Data Analytics

With the CMS social determinants of health guidance, it is more important than ever to ensure that your data analytics are as robust as possible and can tell you everything you need to know.
The best way to manage your healthcare data analytics is with Trella Health. Implement Trella Health Today!

Trella Health is the leader in market intelligence for the 65+ population, with extensive data sets including Medicare FFS, Medicare Advantage, commercial payers, ACOs, and DCEs. For more insights into how to stand out as a preferred referral partner, schedule a demo today.


About the Author:

Carly Duncan, Digital Specialist

Carly is passionate about all things related to digital marketing. She handles Trella's website publication, social media management, digital asset creation, and more. Prior to her role as the Digital Specialist, Carly started at Trella as a marketing intern and then as a top-performing BDR. Carly graduated from Kennesaw State University where she found her passion for establishing personal relationships through the power of digital storytelling.