Capturing Health in Healthcare Using Technology

By Gillian Christie

Strong evidence indicates health and healthcare impact mortality and morbidity. Historically, the integration of health and healthcare systems in the United States has been fragmented. Aspiring physicians are rarely taught the importance of nutrition or physical activity in promoting health, while corporate leaders are only beginning to consider health and well-being determinants in healthcare cost considerations.

This may slowly be changing. Last week, Nancy Adler and William Stead, Co-Chairs of an Institute of Medicine (IOM) Committee on the Recommended Social and Behavioral Domains and Measures for Electronic Health Records, published “Patients in Context — EHR Capture of Social and Behavioral Determinants of Health” in the New England Journal of Medicine. Adler and Stead recommended that physicians ask patients twelve questions on their socioeconomic and behavioral health statuses. Answers would be incorporated into Electronic Health Records (EHRs). It is believed that social and behavioral determinants of health easily fit into physicians’ existing workflow and can reduce costs in the healthcare system. It would also provide patient-centered and accountable care.

Adler and Stead’s recommendations derive from a recently released IOM report titled “Capturing Social and Behavioral Domains and Measures in Electronic Health Records: Phase 2”. This Committee was charged with suggesting social and behavioral information that should be incorporated into EHRs, and evaluating methods to effectively include such information. Committee members derived from a variety of disciplines and included social and behavioral scientists, clinical and public health practitioners, and information technology experts.

One pledge launched at the Vitality Institute Commission’s Recommendations Report release was to work with the IOM to convene a workshop on Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications of Personalized Health Technology (Spring 2015, TBC). Social challenges that hinder the uptake of personalized health technology such as physician training in personalized health technology will be discussed. Outputs from the workshop will inform a set of responsibility guidelines for personalized health technology to be piloted in leading health technology companies.


Do you use a personalized health technology such as a wearable tracking device? If so, have you brought your health data to your doctor? Has he or she been effectively able to interpret the data? We are interested in hearing from you!

Tweet at the Vitality Institute @VitalityInst or at Gillian Christie @gchristie34


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