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J Health Care Poor Underserved. 2014 Feb;25(1):1-16. doi: 10.1353/hpu.2014.0040.

Incorporation of socioeconomic status indicators into policies for the meaningful use of electronic health records.


Socioeconomic status (SES) has an important effect on health. Individuals with lower SES experience more chronic disease, are less likely to receive preventive care, and have shorter life expectancies. As the Affordable Care Act is implemented and increasing numbers of previously uninsured people gain access to health care, the imperative to recognize patients' SES and develop health initiatives that account for the social determinants of health increases. Health care providers across the nation are adopting electronic health records (EHRs). Policies such as Meaningful Use offer opportunities systematically to incorporate the collection of standardized SES indicators into EHRs in ways that improve health, increase the understanding of the relationship between SES and health, and inform future policies. This paper examines the use of SES indicators in research, national surveys, and federal programs and finds adding an income question is the most feasible and optimal SES indicator for the inclusion in EHRs.

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