Your ZIP Code says a lot about you: it’s not just demographic information, but a social determinant of health. Social determinants of health—which include ZIP Codes, access to transportation and child care, a person’s sense of community, and more—are predictors of everything from longevity to rates of certain chronic diseases. Increasingly, Epic organizations are using socioeconomic data to improve and inform care. If patients aren’t sure whether they’ll be able to get to the clinic or find someone to watch their children during their appointments, for example, they might be skipping out on important preventive or routine care.
Providers can use Epic to document social factors, from access to transportation to ZIP Codes. Kaiser Permanente Northwest, for example, is using patients’ socioeconomic data in Epic to connect people known as “patient navigators”—red-tape-slicing “ninjas” who help address patients’ social needs—with patients who need them. Patient navigators arrange transportation and childcare, set up appointments, and help with other bureaucratic tasks that might take the patient’s focus away from taking care of themselves and their families.
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