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Consumer Surveys on SDOH Experiences: Kaiser, McKinsey and Waystar

By Clive Riddle, June 7, 2019 

Kaiser Permanente has just released results of consumer SDOH survey they commissioned entitled Social Needs in America, which found “68% of Americans surveyed reported they experienced at least one unmet social need in the past year. More than a quarter of those surveyed [28%] said that an unmet social need was a barrier to health, with 21% prioritizing paying for food or rent over seeing a doctor or getting a medication.”  In two other recent consumer SDOH survey reports, one [Waystar] found the same exact percentage [68%] reporting one or more unmet needs, while the other [McKinsey] found a lower figure [53%.] 

Here’s some of the Kaiser survey’s other detailed findings:

Respondents that frequently or occasionally experience stress include:

  • 39%  over meeting their family’s needs for food/balanced meals;
  • 38% over social relationships needs;
  • 35% over meeting housing needs; and,
  • 32% over transportation needs

Respondents believe these factors are important to overall health:

  • stable housing (89%)
  • balanced meals (84%)
  • reliable transportation (80%); and
  • supportive social relationships (72%) 

35% lack confidence that they could identify the best resource if they or a family member needed to use community resources relating to transportation, food, housing, or social isolation. 

42% would turn to their medical services provider when looking for information on community resources to help with social needs, and 30% would turn to their health insurance provider for this information.

Respondents are supportive of medical service providers assessing social needs;

  • 93% say their medical provider should ask about access to
  • food and balanced meals;
  • 83% say their medical provider should ask about safe and stable housing;
  • 78% say their medical provider should ask about social relationships and
  • isolation; and
  • 77% feel that their medical provider  should ask about transportation to work, school, appointments, or activities

Mckinsey examined consumer interest in SDOH offerings and how SDOH impacted healthcare utilization rates in their 2019 Consumer Social Determinants of Health Survey report, released in April, which found 53% reported they were adversely impacted by at least one SDOH factor, with food security being the most commonly reported unmet need (35%), followed by safety (25%) housing (21%) social support (17%) and transportation (15%). McKinsey found that 45% of respondents with unmet social needs reported high healthcare utilization, compared to 21% of respondents reporting no unmet needs. 85% of respondents indicated they would use a social program offered by their health plan.

Waystar released results of their consumer SDOH survey in December, finding:

  • 68% of consumers have at least some level of SDoH challenge and 52% have a moderate to high SDoH risk in at least one category.
  • Patients with SDoH issues are 2.5 times more willing to talk about those issues with clinicians than they are with payers
  • Patients with high SDoH risk are more than 20 times more likely to miss a medical appointment at least once a month
  • Medicare and Medicaid, have the largest high-stress share with 33 percent having high stress in three or more areas, compared to 21 percent of the commercial insurance population being "high risk."

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