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March 9, 2022

[Changemakers] What are Social Determinants of Health ft. SODA Health

This blog post was written in partnership with SODA Health.

Illness and injury doesn’t exist in a vacuum. In fact, most of a person’s health is tied to social determinants of health (SDOH), the environmental factors in which a person is born and lives. 

According to the World Health Organization, SDOH are the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live, and age, and the wider set of forces and systems shaping the conditions of daily life. Economic stability, educational opportunities, social policies and other factors all influence social determinants of health. Between 30-55% of all health outcomes can be tied to SDOH. 

“Addressing SDOH is key to eliminating health inequities,” said Josie Baker, head of social care at Soda Health. Soda Health is a healthcare technology company focused on building solutions which eliminate health inequities and create a healthier America. 

Soda Health partners with health plans to identify and address these situations—for example, if a patient has an issue with transportation, such as getting to a doctor’s appointment or picking up a prescription. 

“People are struggling to address foundational needs,” said Robbie Knight, Soda Health co-founder and CEO. “Among the general population, 70% of people struggle with at least one SDOH challenge.” 

There are many social and government programs that address SDOH, but oftentimes, people do not take advantage of them because of an arduous application process. For example, 40% of Medicaid and Medicare recipients who are eligible for SNAP—the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, once known as food stamps—aren’t actually receiving those services. 

“There are a lot of great benefit programs available for people.” Knight said. “The challenge today is that people don’t know that they’re eligible for them.”

“Those benefits and entitlement programs are already available today, but they have an ungodly process to go through,” Knight said. “It’s a dehumanizing experience in some cases.”

Employers and health plans are taking note, Knight said, because in order to ensure employees are healthy, you need to address the whole person.

Watch the full recording of the webinar with Soda Health above.