The World Health Organization (WHO) identifies gender as a key social determinant of health (SDoH), making consideration of gender paramount in delivering quality care to patients around the world. Gender impacts health outcomes both through cellular and physiological pathways. Additionally, social constructs and expectations of gender impact patient health.
Though the research agrees on the relevance of considering gender, challenges persist when addressing gender as an SDoH, especially for women’s health. In particular, evaluating the impact of gender becomes complicated as gender intersects with several key other SDoH factors, such as socioeconomic status and race. For example, the CDC reported that non-Hispanic Black women had 2.9 times the maternal mortality rate as non-Hispanic White women in 2020.
Further, how to adequately capture gender proves challenging, as studies and disciplines utilize different sets of criteria. For instance, a recent epidemiology review quantified the hurdle of inconsistent standards.
All this has implications for how doctors incorporate gender as an SDoH when curating customized patient treatment plans. And with ACO REACH expectations, risk-bearing organizations are up against a deadline to find tooling to support their efforts to account for SDoH so they can deliver on health equity goals.
When considering gender as an SDoH, not all platforms will perform equally. As such, risk-bearing organizations should vet their selection to ensure the targeted intervention recommendations serve women fairly. Three questions to ask when determining if a platform works:
Is the platform dynamic? The tooling should update in real time so providers always have access to up-to-date intervention recommendations.
Can the analysis consider nuanced interplays of multiple SDoH factors? Modeling should account for the dynamic intersection of SDoH factors, such as gender, race, socioeconomic standing, neighborhood, food swamps versus food deserts, etc.
Does the data show it works? Successful platforms will result in both raised ROI for the risk-bearing organization and improved patient health outcomes.