New Report Recommends Social and Behavioral Domains for Electronic Health Records

Including social and behavioral information in patients’ electronic health records may improve patient care, according to a new report from the Institute of Medicine.

The Institute of Medicine identified several categories for possible inclusion in electronic health records, including alcohol use, race and ethnicity, tobacco use and exposure, census tract median income, education, depression, intimate partner violence, physical activity, social connections and social isolation and stress.

This information can help with diagnosis, treatment choices, policy, health care system design and reduce health care costs.

“Implementing changes to electronic health records involves not just modifications to technologies, but also an expansion of how we think about the determinants of health, adaptation in the ways clinical teams work, and changes to how patients engage in their own care,” the report authors said in a brief published in conjunction with the report.

The authors also recommend that electronic health record vendors and product developers be vetted to determine their ability to acquire, store, transmit, and download self-reported data about social and behavioral health.

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