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Waystar survey reveals patient attitudes around social determinants of health

Survey Finds Financial Insecurity and Social Isolation Top Challenges Facing Patients, Organizations Lack Consistent, Comprehensive Approach to Identify and Address Risks

CHICAGO, Dec. 12, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Waystar, a leading provider of cloud-based revenue cycle technology, today released an industry survey examining patient perspectives around Social Determinants of Health (SDoH). The “2018 Consumer Perspectives on How Social Determinants Impact Clinical Experience,” report revealed 68 percent of Americans identified having challenges in at least one SDoH risk category. Of all patients in the “high risk” segment, 60 percent have never discussed their issues with a provider or their insurance company.

SDoH categories included financial security, food insecurity, social isolation, housing insecurity, addiction, transportation access and health literacy. Consistent across payer classes (government-funded versus commercial insurance), the most commonly reported SDoH issues were financial insecurity and social isolation.

Improving these categories for patients can have overwhelmingly positive effects on the patient’s health and the country’s overall healthcare system. But in an era of health system transformation, providers, healthcare organizations and payers still lack the tools, programs and community partnerships required to identify and address the patient needs. The data identified an exponential relationship in missed medical appointments related to increased SDoH risk.  Additionally, the survey found that efforts to identify and mitigate SDoH risk are far from universal. The findings showed only 22 percent of consumers with SDoH stress have discussed these issues with their physician.

“Organizations are still undervaluing processes within their clinical care to determine these challenges and find support to help improve risk factors for a better, longer-term health outcome for the patient,” said Matt Hawkins, CEO of Waystar. “If we are going to take the right steps to promote value-based healthcare, we have to start by addressing the social needs of patients. This starts with talking with care teams on the front lines to better understand the learning gap in understanding SDoH needs of their patients.”

Efforts to engage patients on SDoH issues are also found to be frequently misapplied; the majority of conversations about SDoH challenges occur with patients least likely to be affected by them and less likely to accept assistance even if they are affected. As a result, almost half (46 percent) of patients offered programs and services to help address SDoH challenges, declined to accept.

Additional key findings include:

  • Even in the healthiest of categories surveyed, more than one in five consumers self-reported having high SDoH risk.
  • Of all patients in the “high risk” segment, 60 percent have never discussed their issues with a provider or their insurance company.
  • Government-funded insurance pools, Medicare or Medicaid, have the largest high-stress share with 33 percent having high stress in three or more areas, compared to 21 percent of the commercial insurance population being “high risk.”
  • While almost half decline assistance, those who discuss SDoH challenges with a physician or nurse are more likely to accept help than those who speak with an insurance representative.
  • Younger consumers are twice as likely to have been engaged in a discussion of their SDoH challenges but are less receptive to assistance.

“Organizations, physicians and payers have to work together to improve patient engagement. When our patients suffer from conditions that otherwise could be prevented, it means we’re not addressing SDoH and health management proactively enough,” said Hawkins.

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About Waystar:
Waystar is a leading provider of technology that simplifies the healthcare revenue cycle to improve the financial health of their clients. Waystar’s innovative technology allows clients to collect more with less cost and less stress, so they can focus on their goals, patients and communities. Waystar has scored Best in KLAS® every year since 2010 and earned multiple #1 rankings from Black Book™ surveys since 2012. The Waystar platform supports more than 450,000 providers, 750 health systems and hospitals, and 5,000 payers and health plans. For more information, visit, or follow @Waystar, on Twitter.

Contact: Bateman Group for Waystar,