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Social determinants of health

Hippo Virtual Care Enables Better Contextual Care To Improve Patient Outcomes

Over the past decade, the focus of healthcare has slowly begun to shift from treating diseases to preventing their occurrence and maintaining good health. In order to achieve this, providers need a deeper understanding than what lab tests and physical examinations alone can provide. 

Research from the Boston Foundation and New England Healthcare Institute found that health outcomes are determined by a heterogeneous mix of factors, including medical care (10%–20%), genetics (30%), behavior (40%–50%), and social and physical environments (20%). 

These social determinants of health are key drivers of health outcomes, but many providers overlook their impact. An office setting can often feel very sterilized and rushed, and providers cannot easily determine what a patient’s home life is like. Here again, Hippo Virtual Care offers a solution for both patients and providers. 

Social determinants of health should impact patient care

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention list five primary categories that influence a person’s health: genetics, behavior, environmental and physical influences, medical care, and social factors. The process of clinical decision-making should take all of these into account, along with evidence-based research, the patient’s current state, and the patient’s preferences. When a provider fails to consider these factors, the patient’s overall health can suffer. 

In-person visits to a clinic allow a physician to assess some but not all of these factors. Seeing a patient’s everyday setting can help create a fuller picture of their life, enhancing the care they receive by helping providers better understand social determinants that are influencing health and wellbeing. Environmental factors, for example, can have a huge influence on health. Asthma, respiratory infections, lead poisoning, injury and fall prevention, and mental health issues can all stem from environmental causes that can be hard to assess if providers do not know a patient’s domestic setting. With improved insight into these social determinants, providers can better understand barriers that patients may be facing and help them access resources to help or amend their care plan to account for those barriers.

Hippo Virtual Care provides a fuller picture than telehealth alone

Virtual care allows physicians to get a better idea of a patient’s environment. Being able to see where a patient lives can help a provider better understand their socioeconomic factors, the cleanliness of their living conditions, and allow patients to easily show medicine cabinets, demonstrate how they use medical equipment, and help them feel more at ease during an appointment. These additional context clues can help lead to a diagnosis or even identify a more ideal treatment course.

While some of this information is available with a telehealth visit, Hippo Virtual Care allows remote physicians to collaborate with a more hands-on approach to patient care. Hippo’s wearable computers help providers obtain a wider understanding of a patient’s home life, leading to early assessment, alerts, intervention and improved self-care behavior. The hands-free and voice-controlled headset delivers a “through the eyes of the user” 360-degree viewpoint, allowing healthcare practitioners to view more than would be visible on a telehealth video chat. 

“Hippo enables the remote physician to see a complete picture of the patient’s environment, which is key to understanding social determinants of health to improve outcomes,” states Dr. Patrick Quinlan, CEO and Co-founder of Hippo Technologies, Inc. “Improving outcomes begins with an engaging encounter between the patient and caregiver to promote new patient self-care behaviors. This requires an effective caregiving routine and dialogue that allow the physician and caregiver to more effectively diagnose, educate and motivate a patient and their immediate care circle to change behaviors that will impact daily patient care, conditions and outcomes. We are selling more than software and hardware. Our value is in changing physician, caregiver and patient behaviors to adopt, adapt and integrate this virtual care approach into their daily routines to improve their overall health outcomes.”

The virtual care headset removes barriers to care by connecting clinician extenders or caregivers in the home with specialists for guidance and better decision making, allowing physicians and medical specialists to have a first-hand view of patients without needing to be in the same room. This allows for streamlined care and increased collaboration, improving patient satisfaction and compliance. Additionally, clinician extenders will be able to pick up on possible clues and environmental factors that patients may not be aware of (such as the potential impact of pets in the home), and easily communicate them to the provider to influence care decisions, patient education and self-care compliance.

Virtual care empowers patients to have a more meaningful discussion with their provider, leading to better outcomes, and Hippo is proud to bring their industry-leading wearable healthcare solutions to patients around the world by transcending conventional boundaries of time, distance and training.