NCQA Releases Its Social Determinants of Health Resource Guide

October 30, 2020 · Brittani Spaulding

At NCQA, we believe that delivering high-quality care requires collaboration across diverse areas of health care. We also recognize the importance of addressing social determinants of health (SDOH) as part of improving care delivery, health outcomes and health equity. Toward that end, with sponsorship from Janssen Scientific Affairs, NCQA created the Social Determinants of Health Resource Guide to help health plans and clinically integrated networks (CIN) develop strategies and initiatives to address SDOH.

The SDOH Resource Guide is organized into six sections centered around SDOH strategy. It features 21 in-the-field examples highlighting real-world interventions that health plans and CINs are implementing to address social needs for their commercial populations. The guide also contains information on how NCQA programs address SDOH

What’s in the SDOH Resource Guide                                     Six Sections of the Resource Guide

About SDOH

The World Health Organization defines SDOH as “the conditions in which people live, work, and play – they are the forces and institutions shaping the conditions of daily life, including political systems, public policies and social norms.”[i] This involves factors such as socioeconomic status, education, employment, environment, social supports and income—just to name a few. SDOH can be protective and improve health or they can be adverse and undermine it.

Health care systems were once considered the main driver of health outcomes, but now we know that SDOH play an even greater role. Recent attention to improving health equity has focused on mitigating the negative impact on health from unfair distribution of SDOH such as unsafe housing, employment instability and food insecurity. The figure at right is an example of how poverty affects health outcomes, according to the Healthy People 2030 initiative.[i]


Using the SDOH Resource Guide 

Although the literature contains many examples of addressing SDOH for Medicaid and Medicare populations, less has been published about commercially insured populations. The SDOH Resource Guide highlights activities that health plans and CINs have implemented to address SDOH, and can inform other organizations about potential strategies to help them address SDOH in their own populations.

Strategies and interventions in the guide focus on commercial populations, but the lessons it contains can apply across populations to improve health outcomes and health equity.



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