Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield recently joined the Gravity Project.
The Gravity Project is a national collaborative working to standardize data collection and sharing on social determinants of health in electronic health records.
Social determinants of health are economic and social conditions that can influence the health status and well-being of individuals and groups of people.
The Gravity Project is committed to helping the healthcare system and related sectors standardize how they capture and share data related to social risks and needs.
Why is the Gravity Project important?
Having standardized, reliable data about individuals’ needs is critical for healthcare and social service providers to meet people’s needs inside and outside the doctor’s office.
“We recognize that social determinants of health have a significant impact on the overall health of our members,” said Curtis Barnett, president and chief executive officer of Arkansas Blue Cross. “Neighborhoods that have little access to healthy food can result in poor diet. Areas that have no sidewalks can make it hard for people to get healthy exercise by walking or jogging. A lack of access to transportation can keep people from going to the doctor when they need to. Being able to identify these issues across the healthcare system will allow us to help our members overcome these obstacles and find the resources they need to improve their health.”
The Gravity Project’s History
The Gravity Project was initiated in November 2018 by the Social Interventions Research and Evaluation Network (SIREN) at the University of California, San Francisco, in collaboration with EMI Advisors, LLC of Bethesda, Maryland.
The project seeks to align all social determinants of health data with standards set forth by Health Level Seven International (HL7®), a healthcare standards organization. These standards, Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR®), describe data formats and elements and an application programming interface for exchanging electronic health records.
Since May 2019, the Gravity Project has worked with more than 1,000 participants to standardize social determinants data across four clinical activities – screening, diagnosis, goal-setting and interventions.
The project initially focused on food insecurity, housing instability/homelessness and transportation insecurity. Additional social determinant areas include financial strain, demographics status, social isolation, stress and interpersonal violence.