The health care industry is focusing more attention to the impact that living conditions, lifestyle, and employment have on people’s quality of life and health outcomes. Information collected about these social, economic, and physical conditions, known as the social determinants of health (SDoH), are among the most difficult to share through health information exchanges (HIEs), according to a recent report from eHealth Initiative and Foundation and Orion Health.

The 2019 Survey on HIE Technology Priorities was completed by 53 organizations from 35 states between February and April 2019. Respondents had the option to describe themselves as more than one type of HIE:

  • 60 percent were regional or community HIEs
  • 38 percent are state-designed HIEs
  • 23 percent are private or proprietary HIEs
  • 4 percent are hybrid HIEs

They were asked about adoption of health IT, clinical and claims data integration, types of data included in health data exchange, HIE business drivers and priorities, and challenges associated with health IT use and data exchange.

The health care industry aims to gain a more accurate picture of a patient through access to a wider range of data types. The most challenging types of data to exchange according to the survey are as follows:

  • SDoH (52 percent)
  • Behavioral health (50 percent)
  • Advance directives, living wills, power of attorney documents (46 percent)

While data on SDoH offers promise for addressing socio-economic issues that impact a patient’s health, the survey found that a lack of consensus on standards for capturing and representing this data creates barriers to its collection and use. Another barrier: navigating legal parameters for cross-sector information sharing. Thirty respondents who had 3 million members or less and 12 respondents with 3 million to 10 million members reported that they have difficulty exchanging data on SDoH.

The findings show the need to standardize protocols for SDoH, according to the report. The “industry needs solutions that remove barriers to capturing and using SDoH data, which can provide a clear picture of a patient and inform their care plan,” the report said.

RISE’s The National Summit of Social Determinants of Health will address SDoH data collection. as well as success stories and lessons learned from collaborative projects across the country during a three-day conference, June 23-25, in Washington, DC. To learn more, click here to see the online agenda.