Ever-changing regulations in the healthcare space keep pharmacies constantly on their toes. Staying on top of these trends and gearing pharmacy programs in the right direction can be a big ask. One way for pharmacies to get the insight they need to stay nimble is to have access to non-clinical patient data that helps complete the picture of their patients’ health risks and needs.

Social determinants of health (SDOH) are conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, and age that impact their health by informing their likelihood to develop specific health conditions and by revealing their barriers to care. This valuable patient data aids pharmacy industry leaders in identifying opportunities to expand, optimize and innovate.

With the right data, pharmacy leaders can guide the industry in meeting patients’ deeper needs, those that have the highest impact on outcomes, but knowing how to get a pharmacy program for SDOH off the ground can be complicated.

To get you started, we have outlined 3 steps you can take to create an SDOH program.

Step 1: Select the Focus of Your Initiative

Identify the patient population and health outcomes to target. Determine specific medical conditions (like diabetes) and outcomes that significantly affect your patient populations. Look for groups that may be impacted by medication non-compliance.

These medical conditions can lower a patient’s quality of life and can be positively influenced by pharmacy intervention. Leveraging SDOH data, stratify your patient population according to their level of risk to apply your resources. Work with your analytics team to narrow the geographical focus to specific cities and compare patterns.

Step 2: Match Existing Pharmacy Programs to Patient Needs

With your focus identified, you must determine the resources that will address the patients’ barriers to care based on their social health drivers. Do patients need additional education on their prescriptions and follow-up reminders? Or perhaps transportation to pick up a refill?

Matching patients with existing resources using social determinants of health data as a guide is a simple but effective way to improve patient outcomes. You can measure success by weighing how well internal programs and community partnerships cover these needs. Then, consider establishing new programs and partnerships to fill any gaps.

Step 3: Work with Local Health Services

When high-risk patients are connected to community resources, pharmacies see a positive change in health outcomes. Launching an SDOH initiative requires thoughtful analysis among analytics teams, clinicians, social workers, and other community partners in conjunction with buy-in from leadership.

The best way to get started is with a “quick win” project, like addressing transportation needs in a specific community. You’ll start making an impact right away.  Then, you can scale into broad-based initiatives to reach more patients – and achieve improved health outcomes for larger populations.

To learn more about how to begin incorporating SDOH data into your pharmacy programs and services, download our white paper: 3 Steps for Building an SDOH Business Case.