By: Ryan Bosch, MD

As I reflect on my experience attending HIMSS earlier this month in Las Vegas, I think about the many great conversations I had and the informational sessions I participated in. It was refreshing to be there in person, and the organizers deserve a lot of credit for the time and attention to detail they put into ensuring the health and safety of attendees, as well as the technical hurdles they jumped through to create a hybrid event for those who preferred to participate from a distance. I know it wasn’t easy.

While it’s hard to talk about HIMSS this year without recognizing the unusual circumstances, it thankfully did not detract from the exchange of knowledge and ideas that are exactly why tens of thousands of professionals in the healthcare industry are drawn to the event every year. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the big takeaways for me this year all involved health equity. I continue to be encouraged by the increasingly prominent role it plays at HIMSS year-over-year, and the real progress attendees are demonstrating towards strategies that will ultimately improve our ability to ensure equitable health outcomes. This journey is bigger than health care.

As I think back to all the conversations I had, I’m drawn to a single phrase: The root of health equity is Social Risk Intelligence™. By the end of my time at HIMSS, I found myself saying this a lot – because it’s true.

I started the week chairing the inaugural  Global Health Equity Symposium, where in the opening session Dr. Walter Suarez from Kaiser Permanente delivered a presentation entitled, “Global Health Equity - The Time is Now.” It was the perfect session to kick-off the symposium because Dr. Suarez took a step back to consider what health equity would look like in a perfect world and then deconstructed the barriers to get there right here and right now.  

From that session until the last, and all the conversations I had in between, it reinforced more than ever that Social Risk Intelligence is the  foundational aspect to every single SDOH program or initiative. Social Risk Intelligence is the  data-driven approach that enables organizations to identify risk, quantify opportunities, prioritize action, and measure impact. It allows organizations to understand the contours and concentrations of social risk, and how they impact health outcomes and business performance. The bottom line is this: you can’t improve what you can’t measure, and you can’t measure what you can’t see.

There is a lot of positive work and progress on health equity and SDOH occurring industry-wide, from all angles – provider, payer, pharmaceutical, government, non-profit and more. But we’re well past the time where standing-up a feel-good program because it addresses some aspect of social risk is good enough. It is time to do more.  We’re at a point where we need to know what’s working, why and how. We need to be benchmarking and measuring programs because then, and only then, will we have the insight needed to iterate and improve on them. The common thread to all of this is that it requires Social Risk Intelligence.

I’m already looking forward to HIMSS22 because all of us have a real opportunity and now an imperative to take more of a data-driven approach to health equity and SDOH. And while improvements in these areas need to be measured in quarters and years, not weeks and months, the work we’ve already begun holds tremendous promise for making progress in health equity an even bigger focus at HIMSS in the future.

In the meantime, if you’d like to learn more about Social Risk Intelligence and our approach at Socially Determined, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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