Data Can Be Used to Improve Patient Decision Making and Address Disparities, Says Dr Ken Cohen

Initiatives to address social determinants of health are likely to positively change the health care landscape, and better patient education can contribute to more favorable care choices says Ken Cohen, MD, director of translational research for Optum Care.

Initiatives to address social determinants of health are likely to positively change the health care landscape, and better patient education can contribute to more favorable care choices says Ken Cohen, MD, director of translational research for Optum Care.

Transcript

How should data be balanced with what the patient thinks they need?

That's a critically important question. Patients continue to conflate more care with better care, and nothing can be farther from the truth. That's the fault of the medical system because we have not done a very good job of educating patients. The solution to that is sophisticated, shared decision-making modules that can actually teach patients in a way that they can understand and participate with what are the real-world outcomes of the care that they're seeking? When you show them that real-world outcome data, by and large, they will choose the correct care. So, we can do this, but we just haven't done an adequate job to date.

What is the role of data currently doing to address disparities of care?

We're not doing enough, but mostly we're not doing enough not because there's not a desire to improve it. I think across the health care system is recognition of the need to improve. The problem is we haven't measured it adequately at this point, so we don't know where to improve. That's changing. Very, very quickly people are adapting to that and beginning to rigorously measure social determinants of health. Once we have an accurate landscape to know where there are deficiencies and how those can be improved, then resources are available to be applied to that, and I think the landscape will change very quickly.

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