Today we are excited to announce that we’ve expanded the de-identified data in Truveta Studio to include 28 additional social drivers of health (SDOH) attributes – such as education, income, housing stability, social support, and more – for nearly 80 million de-identified patient journeys across all 50 US states.

These 45 depth per-patient SDOH attributes will empower researchers with new health equity scenarios to study health disparities and improve patient care in America.

Health systems and researchers for too long have been frustrated by the inability to link patient-level SDOH data with complete de-identified care data to address inequities in care, ensure clinical trials include representative patient populations, and prioritize patients with the greatest unmet needs.

Fully integrated into Truveta Studio, these new SDOH attributes have been rigorously de-identified, simplified for usability, and standardized; then linked with claims, mortality, and comprehensive clinical electronic health record data to match patient journeys accurately and precisely through advanced tokenization across address and name changes, misspellings, and duplications. These linked data create an unprecedented complete view of the full patient journey to study care and outcomes – as well as health disparities – while maintaining the strictest levels of privacy and security. More than 400 total SDOH attributes are available through our partnership with LexisNexis Risk Solutions for customers who want to look even deeper into health equity.

Dr. Charlotte Baker, our health equity research lead and director of Epidemiology here at Truveta, shared the impact these new SDOH factors can have on health equity research:

“The COVID-19 pandemic exposed long-standing national and global structural healthcare imbalances and economic and social disparities that significantly impact health outcomes and disproportionately affect low-income and Black and Hispanic communities. Yet, COVID isn’t the only place where we see those racial and ethnic inequities.

Truveta Studio empowers researchers with the richness of quality, representative, complete, and normalized data – including these critical social drivers of health alongside rich clinical data from the electronic medical record – to enable in-depth studies in new health equity scenarios that will lead to healthier patients and improved care.”

Charlotte Baker, DrPH, MPH, CPH

Address well-known disparities in high-priority disease areas

Despite being one of the highest income nations in the world, maternal mortality rates in the U.S. have increased over the past six years, with Black or African American women 3-4 times more likely to die during childbirth than white women. Native Americans and Alaskan Natives are more likely to have diabetes. Black and African Americans have the highest death rates due to heart disease and stroke. There is a renewed focus on research of high-priority diseases where the health disparities are clearly known but lack a depth understanding of how these disparities contribute to the care and outcomes of these patients.

In recent years, the healthcare industry has increasingly recognized the enormous role SDOH risk factors play on a patient’s overall health, estimating that social factors alone may account for between 50 and 90 percent of health outcomes. Providers question how they can provide high-value, efficient care when, outside their doors, patients lack the resources and support to succeed in their treatment plans. Patients may lack transportation to pick up needed medications, sufficient income to afford fresh food or vegetables, child-care that prevents them from making appointments, or a safe neighborhood or home environment that weighs on their mental health. Yet, the data on these social factors have been inaccessible because of a lack of documentation or reliable ways to link clinical data with these outside data sources without compromising privacy.

With these expanded SDOH factors available in Truveta Studio, health system and life sciences researchers can now study the most comprehensive, de-identified view of patients to uncover trends and identify new ways to address disparities in these high-priority disease areas.

Expand clinical trials to ensure diversity and representation

Clinical trials have long suffered from a lack of diversity given the inherent challenges in identifying and retaining a truly representative patient population. Research journals are becoming more discerning in the studies that they accept, requiring SDOH risk factors to be considered. Last month at the 2023 JP Morgan Healthcare Conference, even Dr. Robert Califf, the commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, echoed these challenges, “It’s asking a lot of the clinical research system to overcome structural failures of our healthcare delivery system. I’m 100% in favor of doing everything we can in the clinical research system to deal with things like inequities in participation in research.”

Life science organizations, like health systems, encounter similar barriers when trying to expand access to their cutting-edge drugs and devices or increase recruitment and retention for clinical trials. They lack the critical SDOH data to identify patients from rural and low-income areas to ensure the true diversity of the US is reflected in their clinical trial patient populations and that patients have access to the right resources – like transportation or housing stability – to ensure they can continue to participate in the trial beyond selection.

With new SDOH factors in Truveta Studio, researchers will be able to better understand the patient populations they wish to serve with their trials and understand accessibility barriers for these patients in fully participating in a clinical trial. When life sciences companies can understand these factors, they can ensure more successful trials by investing in ways to ensure diverse patient recruitment and retention. This not only improves patient care and outcomes but can also deliver incredible cost savings by increasing the rate of success.

Empower community investments and prioritized patient engagement

Increasing costs, growing disparities, and the shift from fee-for-service to value-based care are making healthcare systems increasingly motivated to address SDOH risk factors that act as barriers to improving patient care. Preventative measures that address SDOH are much less expensive and more patient-centric than the high cost of treatment of unmanaged chronic diseases. Investments such as food stamp programs, free medication delivery, ride shares for appointments, counseling services, housing programs, and more can save millions in avoidable health costs in the development and worsening of conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, depression, and more. In addition, many patients with multiple SDOH risk factors are also uninsured and low income, which means the healthcare systems must cover the cost of treatment when they ultimately end up in the emergency room from delayed care.

As we look ahead, these new SDOH attributes within Truveta Studio alongside claims, mortality, and rich clinical data from the electronic health record will enable health systems to study the greatest areas of need within their communities to inform community engagement and investments. Through research and quality improvement monitoring, health systems will be able to understand how SDOH risk factors affect different aspects of care and what intervention strategies are effective in targeting disparities. For example, they will be able to use patients’ predicted healthcare cost alongside rich clinical data to identify patients who are at greater risk for poorer outcomes and prioritize engagement and more proactive care for those populations.

Dr. Debbie Salas-Lopez, senior vice president of community and population health at Northwell Health, summarized it best:

“Transforming the future of care starts with being able to understand more deeply not only what the problems are, but the underlying causes of those problems. The ability to study the highest quality, most complete, de-identified longitudinal patient journeys integrated with critical social drivers of health is the only way we’ll be able to identify solutions that will truly affect change and provide the most equitable care to all patients.”

Debbie Salas-Lopez, MD, MPH

Every study can now be a health equity study, and the world needs answers faster. Together, we can help.

— Terry