Healthcare companies need to know their members’ and patients’ current status for social determinants of health (SDOH) or those factors will block healthcare delivery and negatively affect health (medical and behavioral) outcomes.
Social determinants of health (SDOH) are a widely recognized set of environmental factors that affect whether individual people are able to enjoy good health and a high quality of life. When people are lacking in basic needs such as housing, nutrition, income, transportation, community connectivity or similar areas, they need support in order to take care of themselves and to be able to then focus on higher level tasks like seeking medical care. Healthcare companies need to know their members’ and patients’ current status for social determinants of health and provide needed support in innovative ways, or the knowledge gap becomes a barrier, blocking healthcare delivery and negatively affecting health (medical and behavioral) outcomes.
Picture trying to support the health of a diabetic patient. If the healthcare company providing the support doesn’t know how much or what kind of food the patient has access to, there is a barrier to success. But imagine if that patient, who perhaps doesn’t feel comfortable talking to a live person, could respond to a HIPAA secure message and answer a short survey on their smartphone. And what if that survey could not only gather information the healthcare companies need, but also direct that person to resources they need quickly such as a nearby food shelf or transportation to a medical appointment. Ushur’s Invisible App™ enables just that (watch this video to see an illustration).
Better Data = Better Healthcare Delivery
What kind of data does a healthcare provider or payer need from members and patients to understand SDOH?
One extremely important set of data are environmental factors. Understanding the environment a person lives in, like possibly the lack of secure housing or external (or internal) environmental safety concerns, can provide useful clues about potential health outcomes. Learning more about food security, income security, social connectivity, and availability of transportation are also key.
Healthcare questions related to SDOH need to go beyond the basics, which is why automated surveys are such an effective tool. They can be delivered quickly and easily across a broad population, and because respondents may need to complete it on their own time, it’s important that surveys be offered via any device. When offered digitally, immediately after the survey respondents can also be served SDOH support resources near the patient or member real-time based on answers to survey questions. That’s much harder to do with static surveys or even live interactions.
What can healthcare do, using technology on a smartphone? With tools like Ushur’s Invisible App, they can reach patients and members with HIPAA-compliant surveys designed to gather important SDOH information, reduce the propensity for survey abandonment, and also direct members and patients to relevant help.
Four key benefits of the Invisible App for gathering patient data
Stay HIPAA compliant
With HIPAA requirements and privacy concerns, you need a tool that has built-in safety mechanisms, versus other communication tools like SMS messaging or print. Ushur’s HIPAA-Secure Invisible App is designed to meet those requirements, with encryption end-to-end, and no need to download or login to a portal or app.
Be Patient comfort-centric
It’s common now for payers and providers to ask questions, either live or via a form, about SDOH like food availability, physical safety, and even housing. But that doesn’t mean members and patients feel comfortable answering those questions live with another individual they’ve never met. The barrier to participation due to unease increases further when attempting to ask these sensitive questions in person. Ushur Invisible App works on any device, including smartphones or computers, which means the patient can answer when they want to, where they want to. Healthcare companies can choose from any of 60 languages to be sure members and patients can use their preferred language. And as part of Ushur’s omnichannel self-service support, patients don’t have to start over again if they switch from their phone to their laptop, for example.
Remain brief but relevant
With static surveys that are mailed or delivered via a portal, all of the questions are presented at once without the ability to omit questions that aren’t relevant to a portion of the audience. For example, questions related to women’s health are included in surveys received by men. Healthcare companies also lose the ability to dig deeper into a topic based on the way a question is answered. Ushur’s Invisible App allows surveys to be tailored for audience relevance, and also allows additional questions to be served up based on prior survey answers. For example, if you’re wanting to know more about housing safety and security, and a member or patient answers that they are facing issues in this area with one survey answer, you can present additional questions to help you learn more about their situation to better understand which types of support they need.
Deploy with no coding
Because Ushur enables enterprises to deploy an app-like experience with a no-code app design, Citizen Developers can become the intelligent automation builders for healthcare companies. Healthcare firms don’t need to use their own IT specialists or engineers which saves them time and resources¬— and drastically increases speed to value. Ushur Invisible App integrates with existing front and back-end systems, passing data to and from core systems seamlessly in the background. That means it can link securely to patient data in the electronic health record systems (EHR) and customer relationship management (CRM) systems for more accurate information — and less data entry on the member or patient’s part. On the front end, healthcare companies can customize the survey to meet the needs of their specific patient segments. For example, they can design surveys that eliminate questions that aren’t relevant to a specific audience to reduce the number of overall questions.
Going Beyond Collecting Data to Offering Help and Support
Many of us are familiar with the apps that make recommendations based on what they already know about us and our shopping behavior. What if a healthcare survey could do something similar? For example, if a member indicates they don’t have food to feed their family right now, what if the app could provide a list of nearby food banks or meals delivery contact information to help them get immediate help? That’s a win-win: the healthcare company now knows a key SDOH and the member or patient gets immediate help. What if the tool could take it a step further by pushing an email to providers or clinical resources for follow-ups where there are medical or behavioral health concerns?
That’s exactly what Ushur’s Customer Experience Automation™ platform can do. The social determinant of health survey is an example of how Ushur helps health payers or providers get closer to their members. However, because Ushur workflows are completely customizable, each healthcare client decides how automation can best serve and improve the member experience. Ushur’s no-code workflow design makes the rest as easy as drag and drop. The possibilities are almost endless.
The Bottom Line: Information + Action = Better Care
From a business perspective, better understanding SDOH is common sense. A healthier population requires fewer costly services, which lowers overall healthcare costs in the long run.
Beyond business, healthcare is about health. The more healthcare companies can understand a 360-degree view of a person, the better they can deliver care and support services that are needed — to support longer, healthier lives.
Ushur is a Customer Experience Automation (CXA) platform that is already helping Fortune 500 and Global 1,000 companies redefine the very strategies they’re using to optimize their customer experience and get closer to their consumers. Social determinants of health are just one example of how Ushur is engaging business users to build state-of-the-art and AI-driven customer experiences. If you are curious about how you can improve your customer experience, contact us at ushur.com/request-demo.