The conversation in health care is evolving from a focus on treating illnesses to a more holistic approach that considers the social determinants of health (SDoH). These determinants encompass various factors such as income, education, employment and access to resources, all of which significantly impact an individual’s overall health. In an interview with Healthcare IT Today, Cheryl Dalton-Norman, president of Conduit, shared how Conduit can make a difference in addressing these critical issues.
Providing convenient access to clinical expertise
Access to health care services can be challenging in rural areas, where patients often face long travel distances and limited internet connectivity or technology literacy. A Nurse-First Triage phone line provides an easy channel to clinical expertise. Patients can speak with a registered nurse immediately 24/7, helping them determine whether their health care issue can be resolved at home, through urgent care, or if they need to visit the emergency room.
Conserving valuable ER resources
Many patients turn to emergency rooms as their primary source of healthcare, even for non-urgent issues, due to a lack of access to regular healthcare or because of unaddressed SDOH factors. Nurse-first triage lines help prevent unnecessary ER visits by providing guidance and advice for non-urgent concerns, thus conserving valuable ER resources for true emergencies. Cheryl noted that this approach has prevented patients from unnecessary ER visits about >80% of the time.
Offering guidance and information
Nurse-first triage lines can serve as the first point of contact for a health system. They offer a compassionate and supportive environment to provide guidance and information. In addition to educating the community on where to find the right care within a health system, they can also educate patients about community resources and social support programs available to address their specific SDOH-related issues. Registered nurses can guide patients toward the resources that can help them improve their living conditions and overall health.
The social determinants of health represent a profound shift in health care thinking, recognizing the critical impact of social and economic factors on individual well-being. Specific types of help, from home visits to affordable medications, are addressing these determinants head-on. While the challenges are substantial, the ongoing efforts to promote health equity are indicative of the medical field’s determination to address SDoH and create a healthier future for all.
Contact Conduit to discuss how your organization can confront and mitigate these issues.