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High-Priority Solutions and Ideas

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CODE has identified seven recommendations that we believe can be quickly developed to accelerate the use of SDOH data in the fight against COVID-19. We have shared these recommendations in this section to encourage users to comment and expand upon these recommendations. 

 

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Develop an “Open Table” approach to connect individuals with social programs/services

While the structural social determinants of health are important in understanding and treating COVID-19, it is urgent to address individuals’ social needs. Roundtable participants suggested developing apps or other tools to connect people with social services as their needs are identified. Research on public health trends and on SDOH, collected through both population studies and individual questionnaires, can help identify at-risk individuals and prioritize their needs for social services....

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Reassess privacy guidelines and data use agreements to expedite SDOH data sharing

Multiple Roundtable participants noted that timely data is essential to respond rapidly and effectively during emergencies, including rapid changes in the prevalence and severity of COVID-19 infection. While much of the data collected by researchers or government agencies can be made publicly available, some data carries the risk of revealing sensitive information about individuals.  Much though not all health data falls under privacy rules including HIPAA, the set of federal regulations...

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Create a community of practice so that localities can share innovative policy ideas and learn from what is working

The Roundtable briefing paper, webinar, and breakout sessions highlighted many examples of states and localities using SDOH data in innovative ways to respond to COVID-19. An online platform, communications programs, or live convenings could enable local leaders to exchange ideas and learn from each other. While such an effort could be led by HHS, foundations, or other national organizations, it should be developed collaboratively with local departments of health to ensure that their...

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Improve and expand the use of the CDC’s Social Vulnerability Index (SVI)

The SVI is a well-established, concrete metric that combines different types of SDOH data to help local officials identify communities that may need support in preparing for and recovering from natural or human-caused disasters. The CDC is already working with the OMH to overlay COVID-19 case data with social determinants of health data on the SVI. The CDC and its stakeholders can work to publicize the SVI and expand its use, while also gathering stakeholder input and developing...

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Use SDOH data to better target local testing and contact tracing efforts

SDOH data can be used to help local governments understand which populations may be most at risk of contracting COVID-19 and target resources appropriately. SDOH data can also be used to understand impacted populations and plan culturally appropriate contact tracing. Public testing sites can be located based on analysis of the relation between testing facilities and COVID-19 burden as well as data from sources like the CDC’s Social Vulnerability Index (SVI), which can shed light on where...

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Systematically assess and apply SDOH data from across federal agencies for use in and outside of government

A wide range of stakeholders would benefit from a deeper understanding of available sources of SDOH data across the federal government. Efforts are already underway to inventory and assess federal data sources that can be made available at a granular enough level to be relevant to individuals and communities. By focusing on data with particular relevance to the COVID-19 pandemic, this work could be expanded, accelerating current efforts to improve the use of SDOH data overall. This effort...

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Establish a public clearinghouse for SDOH data

SDOH data pertinent to vulnerable communities is spread across many different platforms and lacks standardization. A number of federal, state, and private entities are collecting different types of data on SDOH already. Additionally, many companies provide data on individual SDOH factors such as walkability scores and housing prices. A clearinghouse of publicly available data collected from all of these existing sources could be leveraged to target interventions to mitigate health risks in...

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