Archive for December 14, 2011

Article points to healthcare IT as a means for addressing disparities

We look to technology to enable and simplify so much in our lives, so it should come as no surprise that a recent article spotlighted how technology can also help mitigate racial and ethnic inequalities in healthcare.

Entitled “Bridging the Digital Divide in Health Care: The Role of Health Information Technology in Addressing Racial and Ethnic Disparities,” the article was published in the Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety and makes the case for the development of a health information technology (IT) infrastructure to address disparities in healthcare.

According to lead author, Lenny Lopez, assistant in health policy at the Mongan Institute for Health Policy and faculty at the Disparities Solutions Center at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, “If carefully designed and implemented, [health IT] [also] has the potential to eliminate disparities.”

Toward that end, Lopez calls on healthcare organizations to do the following:

1. Automate and standardize data about race, ethnicity, and language.
2. Approach data to identify disparities and draft improvement strategies.
3. Target health IT at fragmented care delivery for minority and limited-English proficient (LEP) patients.
4. Create computer-based clinical systems where health disparities are most prevalent.
5. Survey minorities and LEP populations when developing health IT tools.

Check out the complete article here, and the accompanying editorial by Adil Haider and Peter Pronovost of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Till next time,