Sick guy with dog Communicating with injured workers at the beginning of a claim, identifying the SDoH and resolving the circumstances that could impact recovery are key to speeding recovery and driving down costs. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Stakeholders within the nation’s health care system have long understood what is becoming increasingly obvious to the workers’ compensation industry: Social Determinants of Health (SDoH) have an enormous impact on health outcomes and injured workers are no exception. In fact, research suggests that medical care accounts for only 10 to 20 percent of health outcomes while the other 80 to 90 percent are attributed to demographic, environmental and socioeconomic factors.

As SDoH take center stage in the discussion surrounding treatment of workplace injuries, these nonclinical issues, including socioeconomic status, transportation barriers, housing problems, food insecurity and other basic human needs–including loneliness–play a significant role in patient engagement, recovery and return-to-work. It is important to consider the worker’s overall situation and prevent seemingly minor non-clinical issues from creeping into catastrophic claims. Claims that initially seem routine may become complex when SDoH factors are involved.

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