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Should EHRs contain information on patient behavior?

April 09, 2014
Healthcare Consulting By LW Consulting Inc.

It makes sense that the different kinds of data that electronic health records might include could expand as technology improves as well. But that doesn't mean that the types of data we include in these systems shouldn't be seriously considered — only the most relevant information needs to be cited, and how does one determine exactly what that is?

The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies asserts in a recent report that various kinds of "social and behavioral" information could be helpful in assessing individuals for different medical conditions.

The summary for the report explains the list of things that the Institute looked at when determining what kinds of elements (or "domains") from a patient's social or behavioral interactions should be included in these records. 

Some of the 17 areas that the committee found useful and worthy of inclusion in records consist of sociodemographic information like race and sexual orientation, as well as education and employment.

Other individual factors adhere to the psychological (stress and depression) as well as behavioral (diet and use of addictive substances). The way a patient relates to their community might also be worthy of study, according to this criteria.

Combining social statistics and medicine makes one think of the role that social networking might play in discovering these kinds of factors. But as a piece in Tech Cocktail noted, there might be a mixed blessing to its use: while medical professionals can obviously use it to be engaged with their work, focusing on it too much might lead to some security concerns.

One of those problems might be whether practices are meeting proper healthcare standards as they proceed. Healthcare compliance consulting can help these entities find out what they can do to get the benefits of social information while keeping their potential for risk low.