Long-standing health inequities and poor health outcomes remain a pressing policy challenge in the United States. Research has suggested that clinical care impacts only 20 percent of the county-level variation in health outcomes, while social determinants of health (SDOH) affect as much as 50 percent [1].

New social determinants of health (SDOH) quality measures will be required by hospitals, health plans, and multi-payer federal and state programs to help identify and address these nonmedical needs in a clinical setting. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) have mandated that hospitals reporting to the Inpatient Quality Reporting (IQR) program submit two new measures, SDOH-1 and SDOH-2. These measures are voluntary in 2023 and will be required by 2024.

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Screening for social determinants of health

Social determinants of health (SDOH) are the conditions in the environments where people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship, and age that influence individual and group differences in health status. The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion groups SODH into five main domains: economic stability, education access and quality, healthcare access and quality, neighborhood and built environment, and social and community context. As these social risk factors disproportionately impact underserved communities, policies to understand and address them are crucial to advancing health equity.

There are two measures: SDOH-1, Screening for Social Drivers of Health, and SDOH-2, Screen Positive Rate for Social Drivers of Health. SDOH-1 seeks to know how many patients have been screened for SDOH, while SDOH-2 wants to know of the screened patients, how many were positive for SDOH. The introduction of these measures is a part of the CMS’ efforts to expand the collection, reporting, and analysis of standardized data.

How these new measures can help reduce healthcare disparities

The CMS has introduced these new measures to improve the collection and use of comprehensive, standardized individual-level demographic and SDOH data. By increasing the understanding of the needs of those they serve, including social risk factors and changes in communities’ needs over time, the CMS can leverage quality improvement and other tools to ensure all individuals have access to equitable care and coverage.

Under these measures, hospitals in federal payment programs will report what portion of their population is screened for various SDOH and how many screen positive in each category. The systematic collection of patient-level social risk factor data will help enable meaningful collaboration between healthcare providers and community-based organizations to establish more comprehensive care. Another goal of these measures is to use the data gathered to stratify patient risk and hospital performance rates and acknowledge patients’ social needs that contribute to adverse health outcomes. This information will hopefully enhance patient-centered treatment and make discharge planning easier for clinicians.

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How LetsGetChecked can help

Collecting and analyzing SDOH data enables a better understanding of a population’s healthcare needs. LetsGetChecked can help organizations leverage that data with at-home healthcare solutions that ensure all individuals have equitable access to care. Our patient-centric healthcare technology meets people where they are to close gaps in healthcare access, address health disparities, and improve clinical outcomes.

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  1. https://aspe.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/documents/e2b650cd64cf84aae8ff0fae7474af82/SDOH-Evidence-Review.pdf