SDOH Clinical Care
1.0.0 - STU 1

SDOH Clinical Care, published by HL7 International - Patient Care WG. This is not an authorized publication; it is the continuous build for version 1.0.0). This version is based on the current content of and changes regularly. See the Directory of published versions

Exchange Workflow

General Workflow

The following depicts the general workflow anticipated by this Implementation guide. General process is to:

1) Assess the patient to determine social risk – this may be done by using an assessment tool or having a conversation with the patient or both. As part of the assessment, the patient and caregiver agree on the specific risk items that are to be labeled as verified health concerns or problems.

2) The patient and caregiver may establish specific goals regarding the identified social risk.

3) The patient and caregiver agree on specific referrals/interventions that should be undertaken to address the problems and goals. The patient’s consent is obtained to share their specific information with the entity that will performing the services. The caregiver then sends a task to the performing entity to initiate the electronic referral.

The Gravity Project recognizes the need to appropriately manage privacy and consent related to a patient’s social risk issues. This IG assumes that each organization has appropriate mechanisms in place to secure SDOH information and will only release it with appropriate consent. The Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) and HL7 International (HL7), and the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) (this is not an exhaustive list) have active programs in place to determine what needs to be done to protect all personal information (including SDOH) from inappropriate disclosure and use. In this version of the IG, we are providing a specification for a FHIR Consent resource that should be exchanged between a Covered Entity and a Business Associate (BA) when the patient has authorized the BA to release their information to a non-HIPAA covered entity. While this is not a complete treatment of the issues related to consent, it is a starting point to test the viability of exchanging consent information. Future versions of this IG will incorporate additional technical standards to support the protection and authorized release of SDOH information as they are developed by the ONC, HL7, and OCR. The diagram below illustrates the approach taken by this IG to exchange a Consent resource between a Covered Entity and its BA.

The following diagram depicts one example of an exchange workflow supported by this version of the IG.

  1. The patient interacts with the caregiver and takes a risk survey that creates the specific health concerns defined by the survey and the patient’s responses.
  2. The caregiver and patient determine which of the health concerns are valid, and “promote” the most important ones to the “problem list” to be addressed. The patient and caregiver may establish goals and agree on the specific referrals/interventions/exchanges (not depicted in this diagram). The patient provides consent to share information with the relevant organizations.
  3. The Provider’s System provides (via a FHIR API) the ability to share information with:
    • Community Based Organization (CBO) – share Task and ServiceRequest and allow the CBO to respond by updating the Task status and providing feedback on the service(s) performed (Procedure(s)).
    • Coordination Platform (CP) – share Task and ServiceRequest and allow the CP to respond by updating the Task status and providing feedback on the service(s) performed (Procedure(s)). Note: Typically, the CP interacts with the Patient and CBOs to perform the requested referrals/services using a variety of methods.
    • Responsible Payer – with the patient’s consent, provides access to health concerns (Problems) and Interventions to facilitate shared care planning for the covered member.

Closed Loop Referral


Referral Source / Referring Entity (RE) – this can be any of the following:

	1) a provider or other caregiver

	2) a payer as part of care management, risk assessment, or via programs that assess and intervene regarding social risk

	3) a Coordination Platform

Intermediary / Coordination Platform (CP)

	1) This is a service that accepts referrals (it may also create them)

	2) May determine which Community Based Organization (CBO) is capable and available to provide the appropriate service

	3) Engages the CBO to perform the referral 

	4) Tracks the referral process to completion

	5) Reports status back to the Referring Entity

Referral Performer / Community Based Organization (CBO)

	1) Provides one or more social risk services

	2) Interacts with the CP or RE to provide status of the referral

Direct Referral

The referral occurs between the Referral Source and the Referral Receiver. The Referral Receiver may be the Referral Performer or an Intermediary that does not have the ability to communicate with a Referral Performer via a FHIR API.

Direct Referral Light

The referral occurs between the Referral Source and the Referral Receiver where the Referral Receiver does not have a FHRI API (FHIR Server or FHIR Façade). The Referral Receiver may be the Referral Performer or an Intermediary. The exchange with the Referral Receiver is initiated via an email with a secure link to the Referral Source API that can be used by an application available to the Referral Receiver to communicate with the Referral Source using RESTful exchanges that read, create, update resources via the Referral Source API.

Indirect Referral

The referral occurs in two separate interactions. The first is between the Referral Source and the Intermediary and the second is between the Intermediary and the Referral Performer

This IG assumes that, in an Indirect Referral, the Referral Performer does not have the ability to communicate directly with the Referral Source. Therefore, the intermediary SHALL support the following.

  1. Create a local copy of all of the relevant referenced resources from the Referral Source
  2. Create a Task to be Posted to the Referral Performer that references the Referral Source Task via Task.partOf
  3. Create a ServiceRequest with ServiceRequest.intent value filler-order and ServiceRquest.basedOn references the original Referral Source ServiceRequest
  4. Since local copies of the referenced resources are maintained by the Intermediary, the intermediary must periodically query the Referral Source for updates to the referenced resources

Notes on Direct and Indirect Referral

  1. Parties SHOULD use polling if one or both of the parties is unable to support the subscription model (see notes on the Checking Task Status page).
  2. The receiving party for the referral SHOULD use the batch query process to request periodic updates of reference resources.
  3. The above system flows do not define the handling of all possible scenarios. Exchange scenarios may include refusing the referral, canceling the referral by either party, and error conditions that may occur when using RESTful exchanges. It is up to each party to follow current best practice in managing the state of the referral.
  4. The Referral Source SHOULD set the Task.status to “requested” until it receives a valid HTTPS response indicating that the Task was received at which point it SHOULD set the Task.status to “received”.

Support for API Access to SDOH Information

The Referral Source, Intermediary, and Referral Recipient SHOULD make SDOH information available to authenticated and authorized APIs and applications via a FHIR API conformant to the ONC 21st Century Cures Act Final Rule. The API SHOULD allow for the exchange of all resources defined on the FHIR Artifacts Overview page with the patient’s consent where required or appropriate.