An increasing number of pediatric health systems are implementing social needs screening and referral programs. These programs aim to engage families during health care encounters; identify health-related social needs such as food insecurity, housing instability, and difficulty paying for utilities; and then connect families with available resources, often through referrals to community-based organizations and government benefit programs. Because up to 80% of population health is determined by factors outside of medical care, including health-related behaviors and socioeconomic factors, better integration of social care into health care encounters has the potential to both improve population health and address health disparities.

This growing interest and investment in social needs screening is occurring contemporaneously with a dramatic increase in electronic health information (EHI) sharing, driven by passage of the 21st Century Cures Act.3,4  The 21st Century Cures Act aims to significantly expand the types of EHI that are...

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