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Regenstrief Foundation Funds Project for EHR Standardization of SDOH Data

A new initiative led by Regenstrief Institute and HL7’s Gravity Project aims to advance SDOH data standards within EHR platforms to drive health equity.

The Regenstrief Foundation has awarded LOINC and Health Data Standards at Regenstrief Institute a $4.4 million grant to support a global initiative to standardize social determinants of health (SDOH) data into EHR systems.

LOINC and Health Data Standards at Regenstrief and Health Level Seven (HL7) International’s Gravity Project will lead the four-year initiative.

The Gravity Project is a community-led HL7 Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) Accelerator that has introduced a nationally recognized set of open-source, standards-based terminologies to support care across 19 social risk domains.  

“The foresight encompassed in this funding means Regenstrief, through its LOINC and Health Data Standards program, can now come to the table with partners such as The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) and the Gravity Project of HL7 International to continue to expand the strategic implementation of social determinants of health data in electronic health records,” Marjorie Rallins, DPM, MS, executive director of LOINC and Health Data Standards, said in a press release.

“We’ve worked on SDOH projects with the Gravity team, but this support allows for us to expand our collaboration and participation in a more comprehensive approach,” Rallins added.

The project team’s goal is to create, identify, and build a mass of standardized SDOH data elements to allow clinicians to address patients’ social and clinical needs better.

Additionally, standardizing SDOH data within EHRs is set to drive health disparity research through the evaluation of interventions on inequities in healthcare access, care delivery, and patient outcomes.

“Social determinants of health are foundational causes of poor health outcomes,” said D. Craig Brater, MD, president of the Regenstrief Foundation. “Health inequity is pervasive. Standardizing social risk factors data in EHRs and integrating this information into clinical care is an important step toward meeting health disparity challenges.”

“Regenstrief Institute is internationally known for setting health data standards and is an ideal leadership partner for this initiative,” Brater continued.

The initiative will focus on data standards for several social risk domains, which could include:

  • neighborhood safety
  • access to green space
  • food access
  • adverse childhood experiences/toxic stress
  • weathering
  • minority strain
  • immigration status
  • history of incarceration

Other domains are in the development phases.

“Gravity is excited to collaborate with the LOINC and Health Data Standards team to continue the drive toward a world where health and social care organizations readily share the information needed to effectively meet the social needs of individuals and advance health equity and improve health outcomes in communities by using standard terminology and technology,” said Vanessa Candelora, Gravity Project program manager.

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