Free Social Drivers/Determinants of Health Online Training

Are you or your team left feeling uncertain about how to screen for social drivers/determinants of health (SDOH)? We understand that it can be tricky to navigate such sensitive topics. And if you aren’t sure where to start, determining what screening tool to use can be overwhelming.

Thankfully, we have some resources that can help.

The Cynosure Learning & Improvement Connection (CLIC) hub has several resources around SDOH, and they are all completely free. These short but thorough courses will answer your pressing questions, bring new light to what might feel like daunting tasks, and give you and your team newfound confidence regarding SDOH screening practices.

Social Drivers/Determinants of Health Online Training Courses Offered by CLIC hub

  1. Getting Started with Screening for Social Drivers of Health – Students will learn through video modules and document downloads the varying SDOH screening tools available, their pros and cons, and determine which tool makes the most sense for their organization. The course should take less than 10 minutes to complete, including reading through source materials.
  2. SDOH Training: Creating a Trusting Environment – In this short course, students explore the best ways to navigate tough questions like “Do you have a safe place to sleep tonight?” and “Can you cover your electric bill this month?” These questions can feel so intrusive but are often critical to our patient’s well-being. Knowing the answers often lend us to a better overall medical outcome. It should take no longer than 10 minutes to review this course and its source materials.

Why Get CPHQ Certified? And Other Answered Questions about CPHQ Certification

As health care professionals, enhancing our skills and improving patient safety outcomes is always on our minds. But what if beyond only a patient to patient basis, you could influence global change and improvement at the organizational level? This is what the quality manager or director can do. If you have these dreams, it’s time for a serious look at career advancement opportunities.  

So how do you land a position like that? Even with a stacked resume featuring glowing recommendations and advanced skillset, it can be difficult to move positions. A great way to stand out amongst your peers is to prove your commitment to quality improvement through the Certified Professional of Healthcare Quality (CPHQ) accreditation. 

 This article will outline the benefits of the CPHQ certificate, how to get CPHQ certified, and ways to prepare for the CPHQ exam.   


Benefits of CPHQ Certification  

You might not be interested in taking on more education. But CPHQ certification can prove to have more positives than negatives in many situations. We’ve outlined a few reasons why getting CPHQ certified can benefit you. 

Career Advancement 

The CPHQ Certification shows commitment to your profession and the position you hope to hold. This helps set you apart from your competition and let’s others see you are ready for career advancement. In fact, according to National Association of Healthcare Quality (NAHQ) research, CPHQs work at higher levels of competency and hold higher job titles than non-CPHQ peers.  

Advanced Knowledge in Health Care Quality  

Beyond standing out for additional career opportunities, you will learn and prove advanced competencies in health care quality improvement. If you’re wanting to make an impact on patient safety and outcomes, this is how you can build on your current knowledge and know you’ll make a difference. 

Enhance Credibility Amongst Peers and Network 

With career advancement opportunities and advanced quality improvement knowledge, you will gain new respect and credibility from your peers and broader network. New opportunities can open up like being asked to sit on committees, attend specialized conferences, and more.  


How to Get CPHQ Certified 

Now you might be wondering “how do I actually get certified?” There is currently only one universally recognized accredited certification in healthcare quality, and that is the CPHQ certification through NAHQ.  

You earn the CPHQ certificate by receiving a passing score (a 600 or better on a 200-800 scored scale) on the CPHQ exam. There are a few ways you can properly prepare for the exam to ensure a passing score and achieve the certificate. 


Ways to Prepare for the CPHQ Exam 

The best way to prepare for the CPHQ exam is finding an online prep course that sets you up for success. We recommend one with a comprehensive practice test, accessible and educational review courses, source materials, and sample questions or other exam-readiness indicators.  

Finding the right way to prepare for the exam can be tricky, and sometimes when you find the option that fits all your needs, you could wind up spending hundreds and hundreds of dollars. And although for all the benefits, that cost might be worth it, we would like to offer a better solution.  

The Preparing for CPHQ Exam: A Comprehensive Overview for Quality Professionals course on CLIC hub offers everything we recommend above with online, on-demand modules that you can access anytime you can spare a few moments in your ever-busy schedule.  

Learn more about the course, modules, and what to expect to prepare for the CPHQ Exam here.  

What social drivers of health (SDOH) questions should you ask?

Social drivers (also known as determinants) of health (SDOH) are the conditions in the environment where people live that affect quality of life, health outcomes, and risks. They include things like poverty, education level, access to health care (or lack thereof), etc. These factors impact our patients’ health before, during, and after any health care encounter. They also contribute to inequities and disparities in both care and outcomes. To truly deliver patient-centered care that accounts for each patients’ unique circumstances, we must consider how social drivers of health influence their lives.

One way to better understand any challenges your patients face – as well as assets in their communities, families, and homes – is to ask questions about these socio and economic factors. With this information, you can better partner with patients, their families, and care team members across your organization to design a care plan that addresses the non-medical factors that can play a huge role in the healing process.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) worked with organizations across the country through the Accountable Health Communities Model to test approaches to asking patients about their health-related social needs (HRSNs). This effort led to the creation of the Accountable Health Communities Health-Related Social Needs Screening Tool, which includes 10 core questions about:

  • Housing instability
  • Food insecurity
  • Transportation problems
  • Utility help needs
  • Interpersonal safety

Participants in this CMS Model tested different approaches to administering the screening tool and referring patients to available services to address their needs. These sites learned a lot. Hospitals who are now setting up their own processes to screen for and address SDOH can learn about strategies to make the business case for addressing SDOH, align payer and provider activities to address SDOH, expand and scale efforts to address SDOH, and more.

The CMS AHC HRSN screening tool is just one of many screening tools available to use. Whether you use the CMS AHC HRSN or another tool, any information you can gather about the non-medical factors your patients face will help you develop care plans that will more effectively promote healing and health.

Are you ready to take a deeper dive into how to navigating asking tricky SDOH questions? The free course SDOH Screening: Creating a Trusting Environment is exactly what you're looking for. Sign up today to help better address important SDOH questions with your patients.

Social “determinants” or “drivers” of health (SDOH): What are they and how to address them

For those not immersed in health care jargon, the phrases “social determinants of health” or “social drivers of health” may cause you to scratch your head. Even if you work in health care, you might have only vague familiarity with the concept. 

Increasingly, however, all of us in the health care field are called on to understand and address social drivers of health (SDOH, for short). That call is louder and more insistent every day. Hospitals, especially, are being challenged by regulators, public health professionals, advocates, and patients to consider their influence on the underlying social and economic conditions that lead to health and wellness, or lack thereof. 


So, what are SDOH?  

SDOH are the non-health care factors that influence our health and well-being. It turns out, over 70 percent1 of our health is influenced by factors outside the health care system. If we only focus on treating people when they come through our doors with illness or injury, we won’t make progress toward improving health.  

The call to action, therefore, is to better understand the underlying factors— like poverty, availability of safe housing and healthy food, education quality, and more—so that we can change the conditions that will lead to greater health and well-being.  

The World Health Organization (WHO) identifies the following as SDOH factors to be aware of:  

  • Income and social protection  
  • Education 
  • Unemployment and job insecurity  
  • Working life conditions  
  • Food insecurity 
  • Housing, basic amenities, and the environment  
  • Early childhood development  
  • Social inclusion and non-discrimination  
  • Structural conflict  
  • Access to affordable health services of decent quality 


The Difference between Social Determinants of Health and Social Drivers of Health  

For decades, public health researchers described these as “social determinants of health.” Recently, based on input from patients, some (including the team at Cynosure Health) are evolving to use “social drivers of health” to suggest that these conditions are not fixed and determinative, but indeed can be changed and improved. 

Learn more about this change to Social Drivers of Health here 


What can we do about SDOH? 

Hospitals are experiencing new requirements, pressure, and opportunities to understand and address SDOH, especially for their most vulnerable patients. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, accreditors like The Joint Commission, along with patients, advocates, and community members are urging hospitals to get serious and strategic about investing in SDOH.  

This charge to focus on underlying conditions that promote health is consistent with the mission of many hospitals and health systems. The vast majority of such institutions express a commitment to promoting to health in their communities. Arguably, one cannot promote health without seriously addressing the conditions that influence health. 

We now have alignment between decades of public health research on the importance of addressing SDOH, and incentives for hospitals and health systems to meaningfully invest in this work. And yet – the bridge between knowing what to do and how to do it is a difficult one to cross. 

At Cynosure Health, we are talking with and learning from hospitals on the frontlines of this work. We’ve hosted brainstorming sessions with hospitals who are building processes to consistently screen patients for SDOH; we’ve built hospital-based social needs indices to translate community-level data to a hospital perspective; and we’ve supported efforts to address disparities in hospital quality metrics in California hospitals. We’ve learned an incredible amount about how we can all move forward together to meaningfully understand and influence SDOH.  

  • The smartest, most efficient way to do this work is to partner with patients and community members. As hospitals develop a deeper understanding of their patients’ lives beyond the hospital walls, they are challenged to think differently about their role in addressing these needs. Hospitals should look to their most valuable partners and sources of information and insight—their own patients—to inform how they talk with patients about social needs or drivers; institute meaningful referral processes; and invest in programs or partnerships that truly meet community needs.  Learn more: Social Drivers of Health (SDOH) Screening Questions
  • This work is new, and hospitals large and small are tackling it head-on. Many hospitals are in the early planning phases, especially related to new requirements to screen patients for SDOH. It is no small undertaking to build processes that account for adequately training staff; documenting information across disparate electronic health records; and ensuring the clinicians who have conversations with patients are creating a compassionate, psychologically safe environment.  
  • Identify and integrate with other resources. Hospitals do not have to do this work alone; in fact, they most definitely should not do it alone. We’ve heard from hospitals who are aligning with and integrating with existing resources, such as health information exchanges, community-based organizations, social service organizations, and regional or state initiatives that are also focusing on SDOH. Before you begin, look around at what already exists and how you can join in and build on the work that’s already begun. 
  • Not all needs will be met, but data shines a light on challenges. We hear often that hospitals, especially when discussing screening for individual SDOH, are concerned that they will not be able to meet all of the needs they identify. This is inevitable and should not stop hospitals from working towards sustainable individual screening processes, or from gaining a deeper understanding of the systemic barriers that exist in their communities. Instead of being discouraged when we identify unmet needs, we must muster the courage to share this knowledge with others and advocate for the resources, policies, and investments that will lead to community-wide improvements in health.  Learn more: Social Drivers of Health (SDOH) Screening Tools


While some hospitals have been pioneering efforts to address SDOH for years, many are still very new at both understanding and addressing these needs. We may not get things right the first, second, or third time around, but if we focus on listening to and partnering with patients, families, and our communities, we can make progress toward more equitable health care and outcomes.  

If you’d like to keep the conversation going, we have an active group of over 2,100 members ready to learn and grow together. Join the Social Drivers of Health Community today!  


How to select a social drivers of health (SDOH) screening tool

Hospitals are increasingly called to understand and address the social drivers of health (also known as social determinants of health – SDOH for short) for their patients and communities. It is a concept we are learning more about each day. We realize that much of what affects our patients’ health happens well before they step through our doors. Properly being able to identify some of these factors can help us provide better and more efficient care that can solve the root cause of illness and not just the symptoms. Recognizing this, CMS, the Joint Commission, and others are now requiring hospitals to screen for and address SDOH.  

One way to better understand the social and economic factors that influence your patients’ health is to use a screening tool to ask individuals about their needs. Knowing where to start and what tool is right for your organization can be tricky, though. That’s why we’ve come up with this handy guide of considerations to help make the selection hopefully a little easier.  

What to consider when reviewing different SDOH screening tools 

  1. Does it align with your organization’s needs and goals? Will the tool fit with your strategy and mission? Would it help you achieve your goals related to SDOH screening for SDOH, and will it help you collect the information you need? 
  1. What resources already exist within your organization? Consider the tools that already exist in your organization—for example, some units may already be testing SDOH screening as part of pilot or grant-funded programs. Consider also whether your EHR has built-in screening tools that would meet your needs.  
  1. Does it meet CMS & Joint Commission Requirements? Many regulators, accreditors, and payers are now requiring screening for social drivers of health or health-related social needs. These requirements are similar but not exactly the same, so be sure to cross-check which questions are required, and ensure the tool you select aligns.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to select an SDOH screening tool that works for your patients and your organization, check out our FREE 5-minute mini-course on this topic. Our instructor, Natalie, walks you through different factors to consider when selecting the tool, resources for SDOH, and additional insights from other key players regarding SDOH screening tools.  

Sign up for the FREE SDOH screening tool course here 

Health Care Resilience Roundtable Recap: How we keep moving forward and lead through tough times

Our Resilience Roundtable 2023 – Leading in Tough Times: Applying Cross-Sector Lessons on Resilience in Health Care was a gathering of great minds to explore the next phase of health care. We may not have all the answers, but we (you included!) are the ones to create those answers. We are merely discovering what health care resilience means for each individual organization and team. Each of us must hypothesize, test, and rework our approaches to continually improve over time.  

While we gather different tactics and identify barriers, we hope that some of these ideas and insights help spark a new way of thinking for you and your team. Let’s do a brief recap of main topic areas that were discussed: 


In our first session, “Setting a Strategy that Promotes Resilience,” Charles Vincent, Jan Hagen, and Peter Angood reflected on: 

  • Necessary versus unnecessary resilience in health care – leaders must be attuned to underlying system and resource changes that should occur, even if team members are exhibiting resilience. We must ask - how can we recognize when resilience is not the solution? 
  • Need for better data – drawing from experiences in the airline industry, we heard a call for better data on both negative and positive patient safety events, as well as the multiple internal and external factors that influence health care.  
  • Transparency and collective improvisation – Leaders should engage their teams in planning how they will collectively improvise in the face of both acute and chronic stressors.


In our second session, Creating a Culture that Enables Resilience,” Amy Edmondson, Tim Vogus, and Sara Singer described: 

  • Psychological safety – the imperative to create an environment in which team members support each other in anticipating and addressing failures. 
  • Creating the right culture…and also fixing broken systems and processes – Simplify and standardize where possible to free up time to focus on improvement efforts.  
  • Who is on “the team”? - Family members are a crucial source of health care resilience and early detection for patient safety. Consider ways to think more broadly about who is “essential” in supporting patient safety.


In our final session of the day, “Operationalizing Systems to Respond to Unexpected Circumstances,” David Gaba, Libby Hoy, and John Chessare explored: 

  • How to narrow the gap from the front office to the frontline – transparency and improved communication can help all stakeholders understand the true nature of the challenges we face. 
  • Fantasy documents – although we spend time and resources developing emergency plans and procedures, we often know they won’t actually work. How can we improve our efforts to prepare for stressors? 


Want the full scoop from this event? Stay tuned for links to the sessions, coming soon!  

Health Care Webinar: How Leaders Can Persevere and Inspire in Tough Times

For health care leaders, providers, and other workers, the past 3 years have been nothing less than unexpected. Between a pandemic, workforce shortages, provider and staff burnout, natural disasters and widespread financial challenges, we have certainly been put to the test.  

But through it all, some organizations have found ways to persevere and even thrive. So how do you, as a health care leader, create the conditions that will allow your teams to respond to hardships or unexpected scenarios? What skills or strategies can you use to trudge forward in tough times, and enable your team to do the same?  

In our Resilience Roundtable 2023 – Leading in Tough Times: Applying Cross-Sector Lessons on Resilience to Health Care, we’ll explore exactly those questions.  

Join us April 20, 2023 10am-1pm ET for a conversation with resilience experts from across the globe to explore the cultural, strategic, and operational factors that will allow health care organizations to preserve in challenging and uncertain times. Together, we’ll learn about what has worked in both health care organizations and other industries to promote resilience. We’ll explore how to translate theory into practice and will leave the session with actionable ideas about how to lead more effectively, no matter the challenges you face.  

Check out the range of topics covered and all-star line-up of panelists you’ll hear from in this health care webinar:  

Moderated by Bruce Spurlock, CEO, Cynosure Health and Julie Morath, Senior Advisor  


Setting a Strategy that Promotes Resilience (10 am - 11am ET) 

CHARLES VINCENT, PHD | Professor of Psychology, Oxford University  

JAN HAGEN, PHD | Professor of Management Practice, ESMT Berlin  

PETER ANGOOD, MD | President and CEO, American Association for Physician Leadership 


Creating a Culture that Enables Resilience (11 am - 12pm ET) 

AMY EDMONDSON, PHD | Professor of Leadership and Management, Harvard Business School  

SARA SINGER, MBA, PHD | Professor of Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine  

TIM VOGUS, PHD | Professor of Management, Vanderbilt University 


Operationalizing Systems to Respond to Unexpected Circumstances (12 pm - 1 pm ET) 

DAVID GABA, MD | Associate Dean for Immersive and Simulation-based Learning, Stanford University School of Medicine  

LIBBY HOY | Founder + Chief Executive Officer, PFCCpartners  

JOHN CHESSARE, MD, MPH | President and CEO, GBMC HealthCare System 


If you’re ready to enhance your health care leadership skills, register for this resilience in health care webinar today 

When should health care workers wash their hands? And other helpful infection prevention measures

At Cynosure Health, we are taking March as an opportunity to do some “Spring Cleaning.” This year it includes sharing information on how to keep our patients and ourselves free from infection. Few things are more important to patient and workforce safety than good hand hygiene.  

In systems as complex as a hospital setting, it’s challenging for health care and ancillary professionals to see the full picture of their role in infection prevention, and how important their personal hand hygiene is to maintaining a safe environment.  As health care leaders, it’s important we convey the appropriate message of just now significant hand washing can be for each individual health care employee. Let’s take a look together at exactly why hand hygiene is so important, when health care workers should wash their hands, and what a sample clinic or hospital hand hygiene policy could look like.  


Why is hand hygiene important in health care? 

When it comes to infection prevention, there’s no greater ally than hand hygiene. Hand hygiene is our number one defense against germs. These germs can spread from patient to patient without even being in contact with each other if the health care professional isn’t adhering to proper hand hygiene guidelines. Ensuring everyone in your organization follows set hand washing policies is critical for the safety of patients, their families, your staff, and the community as a whole. 


When should health care workers wash their hands?

Unanimously and without question, health care workers should wash their hands or use approved hand sanitizing gel or foam upon entering and exiting a patient room. There are other additional times to complete hand hygiene such as after assisting a patient to the bathroom or giving them a bath, providing routine patient care, delivering or picking up meal trays, and other instances your specific clinic or facility should highlight in your hand hygiene policy. Your policy should also specify when hand sanitizing gel or foam may be used, and when soap and water must be used for hand hygiene, such as in the case of caring for patients with infections like C.difficile. 


What to consider when writing a clinic or hospital hand hygiene policy

Specific guidance for hand hygiene practices in a variety of health care settings may be found on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website: Hand Hygiene Guidance | Hand Hygiene | CDC. 

Your actual written hand hygiene policy will, of course, be more comprehensive and offer specific guidance for hand hygiene practices with specific populations, such as those with isolation precautions, or in settings such as surgery. 

The policy itself should be easily accessible and present for staff to understand and follow. This can be printouts on bathroom mirrors, copies at the nurses' station or in break rooms, or other places you know employees gather.  


How to enforce good hand hygiene without being forceful

There are a few ways to go about this, but we really recommend you have a peer check of sorts. Find your champion(s) in each shift, in each department, and ask them to help co-design a communication campaign. 

Your champion is someone who peers listen to and respect, who takes an expert-level of care for their patients, wants to help educate others including peers, and pays attention to hospital or clinic policy. Your champion will not be someone who is out to ridicule others or point out flaws, not necessarily someone who is in a leadership role, and is not someone who slacks when it comes to general policy following.  

When you find the person or people that embodies these characteristics, ask them to help identify barriers to proper hand hygiene, as well as ideas to test to address those barriers. Offer a script or some language around how to approach it with their peers.

One example used by some organizations is the use of the phrase “I’ve got your back.” When a supportive team member witnesses another team member forgetting to perform hand hygiene, they use the phrase “Hey I’ve got your back.” The team has been trained to understand this phrase to mean “Hey, we’re all in this together - I know you are busy and it is easy to forget hand hygiene sometimes. It looks like you have forgotten to wash your hands, so I’ve got your back while you take care of that.” It’s a respectful and safe way to hold others accountable when it comes to hand hygiene.


We know that hand hygiene is a vital part of infection prevention, but this isn’t our only defense in preventing unwanted illness and infection in our patients. Are you ready to dig deeper and broaden your understanding of infection prevention tactics? Check out the latest CLIC hub course on Infection Prevention from Lakshmy Menon and Sara Turkel, Infection Preventionists with over 15 years of experience each, ready to give you an accessible approach to IP. 

Social Determinants of Health vs. Social Drivers of Health: Are They the Same?

If you’ve been in the health care space for any time, you aren’t new to the term social determinants of health (SDOH). But we are shifting our language, and with good reason. 

Join us in exploring and explaining our reasoning behind moving to using the term social drivers of health instead, and why you should too. 


Social Determinants of Health Definition 

The definition of social determinants of health, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services , is the conditions in the environments where people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship, and age that affects a wide range of health, functioning, and quality-of-life outcomes and risks.” These are broken into 5 different categories: economic stability, education access & quality, health care access and quality, neighborhood and built environment, and social and community context.  

Although the inherent definition and categories aren’t changing, we are updating the way we speak about SDOH.  


Social Determinants of Health vs. Social Drivers of Health 

Have you ever heard the phrase “it’s not what you said, it’s how you made them feel?” That’s exactly the philosophy involved in identifying the difference real difference between social determinants of health vs. social drivers of health.

Health Affairs first posted about this, but when we use the word "determinant," we insinuate that we have relegated people to a definite outcome. But in reality, we are merely using this data and background to help us better understand our patient. By using the word "driver" instead, we are implying that there are things that we in the health care community and beyond can do to help course correct and potentially overcome any setbacks. 

Just as science changes for the better, we are improving our dialog to better match the true meaning behind what we’re saying. We continually aim to keep our patients at the center of everything we do, and that includes pivoting to a better approach when it arises. 


How to Make the Switch the Social Drivers of Health 

Are you left worried you’ll mess up and use determinants still? It’s okay! Any change takes time to implement. Just try to remind yourself what the real definition of social drivers of health is portraying, and it’ll come easier.  

Want to dive deeper into social drivers of health? We have a brand new CLIC hub course covering this vital topic and how to handle SDOH more appropriately in your hospital. Sign up today to start improving the way you think about SDOH and how you can implement language that helps rather than hinders a patient’s experience.