Substantial empirical evidence of the contribution of social and behavioral factors to functional status and the onset and progression of disease has accumulated over the past few decades. Electronic health records (EHRs) provide crucial information to providers treating individual patients, to health systems, including public health officials, about the health of populations, and to researchers about the determinants of health and the effectiveness of treatment. Inclusion of social and behavioral health domains in EHRs is vital to all three uses. The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act place new importance on the widespread adoption and meaningful use of EHRs. “Meaningful use” in a health information technology context refers to the use of EHRs and related technology within a health care organization to achieve specified objectives. Achieving meaningful use also helps determine whether an organization can receive payments from the Medicare EHR Incentive Program or the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program.
Capturing Social and Behavioral Domains in Electronic Health Records is the first phase of a two-phase study to identify domains and measures that capture the social determinants of health to inform the development of recommendations for meaningful use of EHRs. This report identifies specific domains to be considered by the Office of the National Coordinator, specifies criteria that should be used in deciding which domains should be included, identifies core social and behavioral domains to be included in all EHRs, and identifies any domains that should be included for specific populations or settings defined by age, socioeconomic status, race/ethnicity, disease, or other characteristics.
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