IOM: Put social, behavioral data in EHRs

Social and behavioral health information should be included in electronic health records to give care providers the most complete patient data about the patient, the Institute of Medicine says in a new report.

A 13-member committee compiled a proposed list of 17 social and behavioral "domains" to be included as a guide for federal officials developing criteria for Meaningful Use Stage 3, reports Family Practice News.

The domains include sociodemographic, psychological and behavioral factors as well as information about a patient's relationships, neighborhoods and communities.

While information such as race, ethnicity, language and smoking status are routinely collected, the proposed list would also include data such as sexual orientation, country of origin, education, employment, financial resources strain (food and housing insecurity), health literacy, stress, exposure to violence, optimism, dietary patterns and physical activity.

This report is focused on two of six criteria set up to identify the domains: the strength of evidence that the information is related to health and the usefulness to the patient, population and research, according to an IOM brief.

A second IOM report is expected to narrow that list and to look at barriers to collecting information.

Last fall the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued a solicitation for a contractor to make recommendations regarding which behavioral and social data that should be part of Stage 3.

Patient engagement, care coordination and population management are among the areas the Health IT Policy Committee has recommended for emphasis.

Meanwhile, researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania found that community health workers improved access to primary care and outcomes after discharge among high-risk populations.

"They [community health workers] come from within high-risk communities, can relate to patients, are able to help breach potential breakdowns in communication between patients and their care providers, and address the socioeconomic and behavioral factors that affect health," lead study author Shreya Kangovi, M.D., write.

To learn more:
- find the report
- read the Family Practice News article
- check out the brief

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