CMS has proposed adding three measures to the Hospital Inpatient Quality Reporting Program for Fiscal Year 2023 to address health equity. Two of the measures focus on screening and identifying individual social needs that impact health, in an effort to better serve patients and improve outcomes.
We are excited that CMS is pushing social determinants of health (SDOH) and health equity to the forefront. If you are not familiar with the term, SDOH are parts of the environment that impact a person’s health, such as their economic stability, food, neighborhood, community, education and healthcare. By making this a regulation, organizations will have to start collecting data, and this is an important step towards making healthcare more equitable. CMS is accepting comments on the proposal through June 17, 2022, if you want to share your thoughts on what data should be measured.
Wondering why we are so passionate about these SDOH measurements? Here are some quick facts:
- According to WHO, in 2016 as many as 24% of all deaths worldwide were attributable to the environment.
- The under-5 mortality rate is over eight times higher in Africa than in Europe. Poorer groups have had slower improvements in child health than richer subgroups.
- It’s estimated that medical care accounts for only 10-20 percent of the modifiable contributors to healthy outcomes. The other 80 to 90 percent are related to SDOH.
- Cancer and heart disease, two of the leading causes of death in the U.S., are tied to unhealthy lifestyle factors (smoking, poor diet), showing how non-medical behaviors and environments influence health.
- Every additional year of schooling is associated with better health and healthier behaviors.
While we are excited, we know that gathering data is only one small part of enacting change. Regulations require the data to be collected, but they do not mean organizations have to act on it. How do we get organizations to take this data and use it in a meaningful way? How do we make sure resources are allocated so that we can act on the findings? Stay tuned for the next blog in this series where we hear what clinicians have to say.