Integrating data on social determinants of health into electronic health records

Michael N. Cantor, Lorna Thorpe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


As population health becomes more of a focus of health care, providers are realizing that data outside of traditional clinical findings can provide a broader perspective on potential drivers of a patient's health status and can identify approaches to improving the effectiveness of care. However, many challenges remain before data related to the social determinants of health, such as environmental conditions and education levels, are as readily accessible and actionable as medical data are. Key challenges are a lack of consensus on standards for capturing or representing social determinants of health in electronic health records and insufficient evidence that once information on them has been collected, social determinants can be effectively addressed through referrals or other action tools. To address these challenges and effectively use social determinants in health care settings, we recommend creating national standards for representing data related to social determinants of health in electronic health records, incentivizing the collection of the data through financial or quality measures, and expanding the body of research that measures the impact of acting on the information collected.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)585-590
Number of pages6
JournalHealth Affairs
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2018


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy

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