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More social, behavioral data needed in EHRs, says IOM

November 18, 2014
by Richard R. Rogoski
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The Institute of Medicine (IOM) wants electronic health records (EHRs) to collect more socio-behavioral data, and the information sought goes far beyond alcohol and tobacco use.

In its latest report, the IOM stressed the need for more social and behavioral determinants that are now becoming closely linked to "clinical practice or healthcare delivery systems."

The four core domains/measures already collected in a clinical setting are: alcohol use, race and ethnicity, residential address and tobacco use/exposure. The IOM now wants questions included that would document census tract-median income, depression, education, financial resource strain, intimate partner violence, physical activity, social connections/social isolation and stress levels.

"The addition of selected social and behavioral domains, together with the four domains that are already routinely collected, constitute a coherent panel that will provide valuable information on which to base problem identification, clinical diagnoses, treatment, outcomes assessment, and population health measurement," the report states.

"Advances in research in the coming years will likely provide new evidence of the usefulness and feasibility of collecting social and behavioral data beyond that which is now collected or recommended for addition by this committee. In addition, discoveries of interventions and treatments that address the social and behavioral determinants and their impact on health may point to the need for adding new domains and measures."