The shift to real-world evidence and real-world data has driven a significant transformation in healthcare. While EMR, medical, and pharmacy claims data have traditionally been the main source of information for life science companies, that data doesn’t give a complete picture of the patient. Studies show that medical determinants are only accountable for 20% of healthcare outcomes, whereas social determinants of health (SDOH) account for as much as 50%[i].

Social determinants of health data provide insights into the social, economic, and environmental factors that combine to influence individual health. The conditions in which people are born, live, work, and age will impact their likelihood to develop health conditions – as well as their ability to effectively manage those conditions.

These factors, in combination with clinical data, can transform the results you deliver for three strategic areas business: patient engagement, medical research and marketing. Let’s explore how SDOH can help you accomplish this transformation by diving into the process and taking a look at drilled down areas of business.

Patient Engagement: How SDOH and Advanced Analytics Can Predict Health Risks

Social determinants of health – factors such as proximity to relatives, education, bankruptcy, and criminal convictions – tell us a lot about an individual.  A wealth of data can be extracted from vast sources of public records and proprietary data sources, but more data isn’t always better.

Through the use of advanced analytics, LexisNexis® Risk Solutions has identified factors that are clinically validated as predictive of future health outcomes.

When used to augment clinical analytics, healthcare companies can more precisely identify health risks, especially for new patients who don’t have a medical record and claims history. The resulting transparency empowers HEOR, patient engagement, and population health teams to take a more proactive approach to patient and population health.

Research and Marketing: Influencing Product/Service Development

Social determinants data influences every sector in life sciences, opening new opportunities to improve products and services for a wide range of businesses.

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The Pharma and Biotech Industries: This added data expands the understanding of patients in a broader perspective as it relates to real-world data and real-world initiatives. While clinical outcomes data is a key component in predicting health risks, SDOH data provides a fuller picture of patients and their life experiences, and it enhances the ability for companies to evaluate and impact programs using data and insight.

As an example, medication non-adherence remains an obstacle to saving lives, controlling costs, and improving the quality of healthcare.

Statistics show that nearly three out of five American adults take at least one daily medication. And, from 2000 to 2012, the proportion of people taking five or more prescription medications doubled. A recent report estimated that 25% to 50% of patients are noncompliant with their prescribed drug therapy. Additionally, poor medication adherence following hospitalization costs the U.S. healthcare system roughly $100 billion annually, according to a New England Journal of Medicine study[ii].

Predicting future health risks and the likelihood of patient adherence has not been easy; however, SDOH data provides insight into key compliance risk factors.

Moreover, to improve health equity, companies may consider expansion of community education and patient engagement programs. Pharma and biotech companies can address patients’ needs with SDOH initiatives that help them understand patient populations more broadly, including barriers to care outside the clinical experience such as medication adherence.

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The Clinical Research Industry: SDOH data enhances clinical research, as the data provides insights that can improve management of patients during trials. Specifically, the data can help in tracking and engaging patients during the trial to improve continued participation, helping patients achieve milestones, and complete the trial, leading to more robust outcomes.

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The Medical Device and Manufacturing Industries: Data can provide insights that help device and manufacturing companies to more advantageously position products when working with health systems or providers. Having the ability to track and follow patients’ outcomes give these companies a vested interest in understanding barriers to care.

Medical devices and wearables provide companies with a fuller picture of the patient and their clinical outcomes – a picture that is further enriched with SDOH data which can enhance design, manufacturing, and marketing.

Regardless of where your company touches the patient across the care continuum, having the opportunity to better understand more of a patient’s life outside of the clinic or hospital doors – social, environmental, and economic situations – will be key to making a bigger and more informed impact on patient engagement and overall health outcomes.


[i] How Healthy is your County? | County Health Rankings. (2021). Retrieved 15 April 2021, from https://www.countyhealthrankings.org/

[ii] Adherence to Medication | NEJM. (2005). Retrieved 15 April 2021, from https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/nejmra050100