New study conducted by Prime Therapeutics researchers offers insights into ways to increase equity in health care

Research published in the Journal of Managed Care & Specialty Pharmacy uses population data to fill gaps in social determinants of health data, providing a more complete understanding of a patient’s global health circumstances

April 24, 2024

Karim PraslaOngoing challenges in collecting social determinants of health (SDOH) data — such as the cost of data collection, technological barriers and a lack of standardized measures — means health care systems and providers are often tasked with treating patients without a clear understanding of their health context and background.  

That’s the issue that four Prime Therapeutics/Magellan Rx Management (Prime/MRx) researchers — Brooke Hunter, MS, senior health outcomes scientist, Kristin Brown-Gentry, MS, director of clinical outcomes and analytics, Mark Santilli, PharmD, senior director of clinical strategy and programs and Karim Prasla, PharmD, MS, BCPS, vice president of clinical outcomes, analytics, and research — examine in a study that was recently published in the Journal of Managed Care & Specialty Pharmacy. 

The study, entitled “Combining ZIP code–based population data and pharmacy administrative claims data to create measures of social determinants of health,” shows that an accessible way to overcome barriers to SDOH data collection is to use publicly available population data to create SDOH measures. Researchers conclude that housing density, the number of times a patient moves, the number of jobs available per resident, urban versus rural living and the distance a patient lived from their prescriber all had an impact on medication adherence for patients with diabetes.   

“Our forward-thinking research not only showcases our analytics acumen and capabilities when it comes to addressing complex issues such as barriers to health care access,” Prasla said. “It also represents Prime’s mission of providing the kind of health care we’d want for our loved ones.”  

This method of data collection, researchers argue, can provide a more complete understanding of a patient’s health circumstances and can also help health care providers combat barriers to care by identifying patients who could benefit from targeted, clinical interventions to assist with diabetic medication adherence. Improving medication adherence can help prevent adverse outcomes for patients as well as prevent a higher cost of care.  

“This has important implications for improving health equity and access to health care,” Brown-Gentry said. “Having more complete SDOH data can help us understand how to help our communities achieve more equitable health.” 

Prime/MRx continues its research on SDOH data as a pressing industry topic. At the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy (AMCP)’s 2024 Annual Meeting in mid-April, a panel of experts — including Lisa Lewerer, client quality principal, and Ben Urick, PharmD, Ph.D., senior principal health outcomes researcher at Prime/MRX — discussed SDOH data collection as it relates to improving Medicare Star Ratings. 

For more information about cutting-edge research from Prime/MRx, check out our newsroom or subscribe to our Prime Post newsletter.   

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