The Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has asked the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to convene a committee to identify social risk factors that affect the health outcomes of Medicare beneficiaries, and to recommend methods to account for these factors in Medicare payment programs. The committee’s work will be conducted in phases and will produce five consensus reports.

In its first report, the IOM committee presents a conceptual framework and describes the results of a literature search linking social risk factors to health-related measures of importance to Medicare payment and quality programs.  The committee has identified the following social risk factors:

  • Socioeconomic position
  • Race, ethnicity, & cultural context
  • Gender
  • Social relationships
  • Residential & community context
  • Health literacy

In subsequent reports, the committee will specify criteria that could be used in determining which social factors should be accounted for in Medicare quality measurement and payment programs; identify methods that could be used in the application of these social factors to quality measurement and/or payment methodologies; and recommend existing or new sources of data and/or strategies for data collection.

The IOM also has published a brief summarizing this first report.

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