RISE looks at recent headlines concerning social determinants of health (SDoH).

Report: Older adults faced increased mental health issues, drug-related deaths over last decade

Older adults have been struggling with an increase in mental health challenges and drug-related deaths for the last decade, according to UnitedHealth Group’s America’s Health Rankings 2022 Senior Report. While the report, issued this week, identified progress in recent years in areas such as an increase in flu vaccination rates, improved self-reported health status, and improved oral health among older adults, it’s also revealed persistent and alarming challenges and disparities among older Americans.

Key findings include:

  • The drug death rate among adults ages 65 and older doubled between 2008-2010 and 2018-2020, increasing from 4.2 to 8.4 deaths per 100,000
  • The drug death rate in 2018-2020 was 10.4 times higher among Black adults (19.8 deaths per 100,000) ages 65 and older, compared to Asian adults (1.9 per 100,000) who had the lowest rate
  • There was a 17 percent increase in early death rates among older adults between 2019 and 2020, with the sharpest increase among Hispanic older adults (48 percent), American Indian/Alaska Native older adults (32 percent), Asian older adults (31 percent), Black older adults (29 percent), and Multiracial adults (19 percent)
  • In the last decade, older adults have experienced worsened mental and behavioral health challenges, with a 13 percent increase in suicide rate between 2009-2011 and 2018-2020, a nine percent increase in prevalence of depression between 2011-2020, and an eight percent increase in the prevalence of frequent mental distress between 2011-2020

Health Innovation Alliance makes recommendations to improve interoperability

Health Innovation Alliance (HIA) has identified six key solutions to improve health care interoperability and data exchange, according to a new report. The solutions summarized in the Interoperability Workgroup Report aim to support the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology’s (ONC) goal to improve and increase interoperability in health care by 2030.

“How we share data is going to continue to evolve as technology advances. The solutions identified by the Health Innovation Alliance address the key areas that have hampered the flow of health care information. Implementing them will revolutionize how patients interact with the health care system, and how care is provided. If we want to have a better system, we need to act now. The longer we wait, the more catching up we will have to do in the future,” said Brett Meeks, senior policy advisor, HIA, in a statement.

The report outlined six key solutions to improve interoperability:

  1. Enable data to work for patients and providers at the point of care
  2. Leverage state of the art medical devices to improve patient care
  3. Establish clear protections from HIPAA penalties for patient information requests
  4. Inform medical research and innovation with better information
  5. Fund efforts to standardize, collect, and use SDoH data
  6. Improve public health data collection and reporting

Pfizer Foundation awards The American Diabetes Association with health equity grant to improve health of Black communities

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) announced Tuesday it has received a two-year Accelerating Health Equity Grant from the Pfizer Foundation to improve and promote health throughout Black communities in the U.S.

The grant will be used to support a community garden and diabetes support program in Alabama and Florida, where the ADA has partnered with community-based organizations to address SDoH and diabetes care. The projects will also focus on training community health workers across the country to better serve Black communities struggling with SDoH.

"Community impact projects are the cornerstone of diabetes support within our communities. It allows the ADA the ability to focus resources on health in low-income communities nationwide," said Robert Gabbay, M.D., Ph.D., chief scientific and medical officer, ADA, in the announcement. "Seventy percent of a person's health and wellbeing is driven by social determinants of health, we want to help fight food insecurity and be positive change for the low-access communities in Montgomery and Tampa by increasing access to healthy foods and initiating environmental change."