Health Tech, Hospitals

Socially Determined unveils metric measuring impact of social connectedness on health outcomes, business performance

The metric analyzes the influences of loneliness, social network quality, social capital and other data to deliver insights into how those factors converge to impact a community and the people living there, according to the company.

Socially Determined, a Washington, D.C.-based healthcare analytics company, unveiled a new metric Thursday that’s aimed at measuring the impact of social connectedness on health outcomes and business performance.

This metric is part of the company’s SocialScape platform, which is a subscription-based suite of tools that clients purchase. The platform collects and analyzes data on everything from health literacy to housing environment for a variety of organizations focused on addressing the social determinants of health. The company’s clients include health plans, health systems and hospitals, life science companies and nonprofits across the U.S. 

The Social Connectedness metric analyzes the influences of loneliness, social network quality and social capital to provide an unobstructed view of how they converge to impact social connectedness within a community,” said Alan Lattimer, chief analytics officer at Socially Determined, in an email provided by a representative.

And the metric considers other data as well.

Lattimer said the company processes dozens of elements, including geospatial data from the open platform SafeGraph; migration data from the IRS; and information on population density, climate, community resources and recreation options in a particular area.

“These considerations allow us to visualize social connectedness and better understand a person’s capacity for purpose-driven, meaningful interaction,” he said.

The new metric expands the company’s portfolio of community risk scores that assess social determinants at a “hyper-local level,” according to Socially Determined.

“It’s very well known that the social determinants of health can impact up to 80% of health outcomes,” Lattimer said. “This is a massive challenge for healthcare organizations because they have limited visibility into the factors that actually influence health.”

Social isolation is known to be a major risk factor for many different health problems.

A report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine found that social isolation was associated with about a 50% increased risk of dementia, a 29% increased risk of heart disease and a 32% increased risk of stroke. Social isolation significantly increased a person’s risk of premature death from all causes, and research suggests that it may rival the risk of smoking, obesity and physical inactivity.

Socially Determined aims to shed light on social determinants in local areas through its analysis, which it calls Social Risk Intelligence. The company also provides solutions for organizations committed to effectively addressing social determinants.

“Our company is anchored in deep healthcare and technology expertise to give full visibility into where and how socioeconomic factors are impacting communities and people,” Lattimer said. 

Increasingly health organizations are trying to take social determinants into account to improve patient outcomes. One of the most prominent in the field, Unite Us, has created a SDOH platform through which it builds coordinated care networks of health and social service providers. Penn Medicine and Wharton Social Impact Initiative have a $5 million fund to “invest in early-stage businesses striving to strengthen the social determinants of health of economically disadvantaged Philadelphians.” Public companies like HealthCatalyst, which leverage big data to improve patient health, are providing analysis aimed at helping harness the information.

Photo: FrankyDeMeyer, Getty Images