Social determinants of health (SDoH) – the economic and social conditions that influence individual and group differences in health status, like education, economic stability, etc. – account for upwards of 80% of a population’s health outcomes (National Academy of Medicine).
Telehealth and other digital tools have the power to democratize access to care helping to improve care outcomes for all. Together with our partner Google Cloud, we examined five ways telehealth can help account for SDoH and make healthcare more accessible. Specifically, we explore how telehealth can:
- Remove distance as a barrier to care, which is critical as 6 million Americans live more than 30 minutes from their nearest hospital.
- Eliminate the risk of unnecessary exposure, providing patients who may be more susceptible to diseases with access to continuous healthcare without putting them at higher risk for developing more severe symptoms.
- Extend access to specialty care, and with 55% of preventable hospitalization or mortality in rural settings being due to a lack of access to specialty care, specialists are a core part of our healthcare system.
- Save patients time and money, by enabling them to spend less on travel and childcare, limit time taken off work, and save on other costs associated with in-person visits.
- Combat physician shortage and fatigue by improving care delivery and making it more efficient, ensuring more people can still have their healthcare needs addressed.