Implementing Social Determinants of Health Screening at Community Health Centers: Clinician and Staff Perspectives.
AbstractPurpose: Screening for social determinants of health (SDOH) during primary care office visits is recommended by pediatric and internal medicine professional guidelines. Less is known about how SDOH screening and service referral can be successfully integrated into clinical practice. Methods: Key informant interviews with 11 community health center (CHC) clinicians and staff members (medical assistants and case managers) were analyzed to identify themes related to integrating a SDOH screening and referral process (augmented WE CARE model) into their workflow. Results: CHC clinicians and staff believed the augmented WE CARE model benefited their patients and the CHC's mission. Most clinicians found the model was easy to implement. Some staff members had difficulty prioritizing the nonclinical intervention and were confused about their roles and the role of the patient navigator. The eligibility requirements and time needed to access local SDOH resources frustrated clinicians. Discussion: SDOH screening and referral care models can help support the mission of CHCs by identifying unmet material needs. However, CHCs have organizational and administrative challenges that successful interventions must address. CHCs need clinical champions for SDOH models because the screening and follow-up processes involve clinical staff. Additional support for SDOH models might include piloting the SDOH screening model workflow and formalizing the workflow before implementation, including the specific roles for clinicians, staff, and patient navigators.