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AHIMA White Paper Identifies Opportunities and Challenges With Collecting, Integrating, and Using Social Determinants of Health Data

An AHIMA survey of health information professionals found that nearly eight in 10 health care organizations currently collect social determinants of health (SDOH) data but still face challenges related to the collection, coding, and use of this clinically relevant data.

AHIMA commissioned the study, conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago, to better understand the operational realities of how SDOH data are collected, coded, and used in real-world health care scenarios. NORC surveyed 2,600 AHIMA members and nonmembers from a pool of 41,000 potential respondents in the early fall of 2022.

The Biden-Harris Administration and Congress remain focused on addressing health equity and improving the collection, use, and sharing of SDOH data, bringing increased relevance to the findings in this white paper.

“The effective collection, coding, and use of SDOH data are vital to improving health and health care outcomes,” says Wylecia Wiggs Harris, PhD, CAE, AHIMA CEO. “Health information professionals play a pivotal role in how SDOH data is collected, shared, and ultimately used to improve health and health care outcomes. We look forward to collaborating with policymakers, providers, and key stakeholders to advance comprehensive solutions to address the challenges illuminated by this survey.”

Additional key findings from the survey and white paper include the following:

• lack of standardization and integration of the data into an individual’s medical record, even when the data is collected within the organization;

• insufficient training and education on how to capture, collect, code, and use SDOH data; and

• limited use of SDOH data to communicate between healthcare providers and community-based referral organizations.

SDOH are conditions in the environment in which people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship, and age that affect a wide range of health, functioning, and quality-of-life outcomes and risks. According to research by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, social and economic factors determine 40% of health outcomes and quality of life and are twice as influential as factors related to clinical care.

Findings from the survey are summarized in the companion white paper that is available for public download and analysis.

Source: AHIMA