How AI and ML Decode Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) for Personalized Healthcare – ET HealthWorld

By Kodeeswaran Natarajan

The merging of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) is proving to be a game-changer in the ever-changing world of healthcare. Imagine a tool that not only diagnoses and treats illnesses but also delves into the daily lives of individuals to find hidden health clues.

Lately, the case of heart attacks among young adults in India has been rising, which has become an alarming concern. Stress of modern life, fast-paced urbanization, and lifestyle changes are commonly associated with heart risks; however, studies reveal that Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) factors like education, employment, and social support networks can also influence.

Social determinants contribute to 35–50 percent of health outcomes, according to the World Health Organization. Understanding these social factors can help healthcare providers offer more personalized care that goes beyond prescriptions, addressing the root causes of health issues.

AI and ML reading your health story:
In the healthcare space, traditional methods fall short of capturing the full picture of a patient’s life. Imagine your health records as a big book holding all the details about your health & lifestyle. AI and ML act like skilled detectives with a special language skill called Natural Language Processing (NLP) to read data. They read through this book to uncover essential information about your job, living situation, and support network – these are called Social Determinants of Health (SDOH).

Once they have read the book, AI and ML organize these important details neatly, like putting them into different folders. This makes it easy for doctors to understand and use this information effectively. The fascinating part is that AI and ML aren’t just one-time readers; they’re like students who keep learning and getting smarter. They continuously update their knowledge so that, over time, they become good at understanding your health story.

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So, when you visit the doctor, it’s not just about immediate symptoms like a cough or fever. AI and ML help doctors see the bigger picture, considering factors like your job or where you live that might be affecting your health.

AI, ML, and You
Imagine a healthcare system that not only prescribes medicines but also understands your daily life – your work, your community, and your support network. AI and ML offer just that. These improvements in healthcare are like a superhero team working together to make sure everyone gets the best care possible.

Imagine if doctors could identify potential health issues early so they could help you before things get serious – that’s what we mean by “early identification.” This not only keeps you healthier but also saves a lot of money because you might not have to rush to the emergency room. And when doctors understand your whole story, not just your symptoms, they can create a plan that’s just right for you, making sure you get better outcomes and stay healthy. Plus, with new technology like ML, everyone, no matter where they live or who they are, gets fair access to the care they need. It’s like a big-picture approach to make sure everyone in the neighbourhood stays healthy and happy.

The super-smart assistants
These benefits for healthcare insurance companies and payers are like having a super-smart assistant that helps them manage things better. By using technology to identify patients who might need more attention early on, it saves a lot of time and money on paperwork and administration.

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The SDOH ML engine automates data extraction from unstructured physician notes, identifying Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) attributes. Utilizing AIML techniques such as unsupervised learning/topical modelling, multiclass classifications and semantic search algorithms , it continuously adapts and refines its performance based on increasing data input. The model analyses medical history, lifestyle, SDOH leading indicators to identify health risks and actionable insights and supports in developing personalized interventions. Input can be physician unstructured notes from EMR/Clinical systems, text, words, or CSV files encapsulating SDOH related data, with the output can be integrated into any downstream health management/care management systems.

With AI and ML, they can also figure out which patients might need more help in the future, making sure they’re ready and can plan better. It’s like having a crystal ball that helps them see into the future of healthcare costs. Plus, by using these tools, they can make sure that the help they give to patients is just right for them, avoiding unnecessary complications.

A new era of health
The integration of AI and ML in healthcare represents a revolutionary shift towards a healthier India, going beyond treating illnesses to understanding the intricate factors contributing to health. By recognizing Social Determinants of Health (SDOH), we move towards proactive healthcare, preventing crises before they emerge.

To address the growing health concerns among young adults, leveraging new-age technologies to find the right treatment and suggest preventive care is critical. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) continuously learn and organize the information, helping doctors see beyond immediate symptoms. AI and ML ensure fair access to quality care, making healthcare proactive, holistic, and focused on preventing health crises. This is important because it can save lives, reduce emergency room visits, and create a healthier future for everyone.

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Kodeeswaran Natarajan, Vice President – Healthcare, Indium Software

(DISCLAIMER: The views expressed are solely of the author and ETHealthworld does not necessarily subscribe to it. shall not be responsible for any damage caused to any person / organisation directly or indirectly.)


  • Updated On Mar 13, 2024 at 08:33 AM IST
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  • Published On Mar 13, 2024 at 08:33 AM IST
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  • 4 min read
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