Social and behavioral information could be useful in EHRs

A new report from the Institute of Medicine revealed that inputting social and behavioral information into electronic health records could be helpful to doctors for identifying common factors in certain illnesses and deciding on the best course of treatment. The first part of the study, Capturing Social and Behavioral Domains in Electronic Health Records: Phase 1, was released in April and the second component was just published. 

For the study, a research group looked at how social factors, such as having a low income, are connected to lifestyle choices, like excessive alcohol consumption, that lead to premature deaths in the U.S. Out of 70 subdomains and domains, 17 factors were proven to be useful for inclusion in EHRs. The report urges physicians to gather information like neighborhood, financial strain and exposure to violence, since all of these things could be crucial in diagnosing and treating health issues. 

"Having access to information about health-related aspects of a patient's life in the electronic health record can enable clinicians to make more accurate diagnoses and engage more effectively with the patient in making treatment choices." Nancy Adler, Ph.D., a member of the IOM committee responsible for the report said to the University of California San Francisco. 

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