A call for social informatics

J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2020 Nov 1;27(11):1798-1801. doi: 10.1093/jamia/ocaa175.


As evidence of the associations between social factors and health outcomes continues to mount, capturing and acting on social determinants of health (SDOH) in clinical settings has never been more relevant. Many professional medical organizations have endorsed screening for SDOH, and the U.S. Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology has recommended increased capacity of health information technology to integrate and support use of SDOH data in clinical settings. As these efforts begin their translation to practice, a new subfield of health informatics is emerging, focused on the application of information technologies to capture and apply social data in conjunction with health data to advance individual and population health. Developing this dedicated subfield of informatics-which we term social informatics-is important to drive research that informs how to approach the unique data, interoperability, execution, and ethical challenges involved in integrating social and medical care.

Keywords: health informatics; health information technology; social determinants of health; social needs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Informatics* / ethics
  • Social Determinants of Health*