ONC: 2015 Certification Edition is aiding SDOH adoption

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Efforts to ensure that social determinants of health data can be electronically captured, used and exchanged are getting a boost from the federal government’s Health IT Certification Program.

According to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, the agency’s 2015 Edition certification criteria has created a first step for the standardized collection and use of interoperable SDOH data.

“Since the release of ONC’s 2015 Certification Edition, 72 health IT developers have voluntarily certified 93 unique products to an SDOH-oriented certification criterion,” reports the agency.

ONC contends that the 72 HIT developers provide technology to about half of all office-based clinicians and almost a third of hospitals.

As a result, these providers are certified to record, change and access the following SDOH data elements in a patient record: overall financial resource strain, social connection and isolation; highest level of education; as well as exposure to domestic violence.

“Additional data elements are still needed to represent other domains of SDOH data,” acknowledges the agency, noting that as these are developed and identified they are being added to the ONC Interoperability Standards Advisory, a publicly available compendium of specifications for industry use.

According to ONC, it is also working with other federal agencies and the private sector on several SDOH-related initiatives:

  • Health IT Strategic Planning, including development of the 2020-2025 Federal HIT Strategic Plan.
  • The Gravity Project, a new community-led effort to develop an HL7 Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) implementation guide for SDOH data and more comprehensive SDOH terminology.
  • An enterprise-wide SDOH data strategy led by the Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Chief Technology Officer.
  • Efforts by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to integrate standardized SDOH data into post-acute care patient assessment instruments.
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