This week, Sept 23-27, is National Health IT week.

Is that a thing?! Yes it is! Check it out here: https://www.healthitweek.org/

National Health IT week is founded and sponsored by HIMSS Media, and this year’s themes include some of my favorite topics: Advancing Population Health, and Addressing Social Determinants of Health.

Note that it says addressing Social Determinants of Health (SDoH), which is great. In Pop Health Analytics we are still working on including Social Determinants (income, education, race and ethnicity, access to food and open space, crime rates, home ownership etc.) as elements in Analytics, through public or private databases. That’s including Social Determinants to help gain a better understanding of the impact of SDoH on health status and health-care utilization—and to level the playing field in physician-performance measurement and incentive payments (see my blog on cherry picking and lemon dropping .)

But addressing Social Determinants goes a step further. It’s not just about measuring and taking SDOH into account. It’s about taking action to focus attention on fixing the problems correlated with social determinants. Many health systems feel that this is outside the scope of their mission, and are concerned that their efforts and investment in Social Determinants may actually benefit their competitors. There are models for shared investment to address and improve Social Determinants – see this paper by Nichols and Tailor in Health Affairs. They outline an economic / funding model, shared governance, equal distribution of benefits, and shared financial and healthcare benefits to all participants.

I welcome and applaud National Health IT Week for extending the focus of health IT to Population Health and Social Determinants of Health! Please join me in acknowledging and celebrating the role of Health IT for better and more efficient health care, for the progress we’ve made in 30 years, and the progress we’re going to make in the next 30!

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