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Oct 22

LISTA Has Said This for 2 Years Now…Blumenthal Warns of Risk of EHR ‘Digital Divide’, so What are the Alliance’s Next Steps???

Blumenthal warns of risk of EHR

‘digital divide’

By Mary Mosquera
Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Health IT vendors should make sure they market and sell their products and services to health care providers in minority communities to avoid a new form of “digital divide” that could leave low-income areas without the benefit of electronic health records, according to top Health and Human Services Department officials.

In a letter posted online Oct. 18, Dr. David Blumenthal, the national health IT coordinator, and Dr. Garth Graham, director of the Office of Minority Health, said it was “absolutely necessary that the leading EHR vendors work together” to make electronic health records and other health IT available to physicians treating patients in underserved communities of color.

“Despite our best efforts, data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey indicates that EHR adoption rates remain lower among providers serving Hispanic or Latino patients who are uninsured or relied upon Medicaid,” Blumenthal and Graham wrote.

“Moreover, this data also identifies that EHR adoption rates among providers of uninsured non-Hispanic Black patients are lower than for providers of privately insured non-Hispanic White patients,” they wrote.

Racial and ethnic minorities remain disproportionately affected by chronic conditions, a contributing factor to intolerably high mortality and morbidity rates, the letter noted.

“It is critical that this administration, RECs and EHR vendors work together and focus substantial efforts on these priority populations,” the two physicians said in the letter. Regional health IT extension centers (RECs) supply local technical assistance to physicians and small practices to adopt and become meaningful users of EHRs .

Electronic health records certified to meet meaningful use requirements help improve both the quality and efficiency of medical care, so that rates of chronic illness, mortality and morbidity could decrease within these communities, according to the letter. 

With EHRs, physicians can improve decision-making and increase patient safety with fewer medical errors, which also may result in lower costs. 

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A Message from Dr. David Blumenthal, the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology October 18, 2010

Both the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) and the Office of Minority Health (OMH) appreciate the significant benefits that the use of health information technology (HIT) and electronic health records (EHR) provide to both healthcare providers and patients in delivering and managing health.  Some of these benefits include improved personal decision-making and increased patient safety (resulting in a decrease of medical errors) – both of which lead to improved quality and a more efficient delivery of care, that may result in the prospect of cost savings. 

It is absolutely necessary that the leading EHR vendors work together, continuing to provide EHR adoption opportunities for physicians and other healthcare providers working within underserved communities of color.  Despite our best efforts, data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey indicates that EHR adoption rates remain lower among providers serving Hispanic or Latino patients who are uninsured or relied upon Medicaid.  Moreover, this data also identifies that EHR adoption rates among providers of uninsured non-Hispanic Black patients are lower than for providers of privately insured non-Hispanic White patients.    

Racial and ethnic minorities remain disproportionately affected by chronic illness(es), a contributing factor to intolerably high mortality and morbidity rates.  Electronic health records possess the ability to help improve both the quality and efficiency of medical care accessible by minorities, so that perhaps rates of chronic illness, mortality and morbidity decrease within these communities.  It is critical that this administration, Regional Extension Centers and EHR vendors work together and focus substantial efforts on these priority populations.

Sincerely,

David Blumenthal, MD, MPP
National Coordinator for Health Information Technology

Garth N. Graham, MD, MPH
Director of the Office of Minority Health

 
 

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) encourages you to share this information as we work together to enhance the quality, safety and value of care and the health of all Americans through the use of electronic health records and health information technology. For more information and to receive regular updates from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, please subscribe to our Health IT News list.

  

These are historic times.  The HITECH Act is bringing the power of electronic health records to our health care system.  We are writing to solicit your assistance in making sure that we are not creating a new form of “digital divide” and want to make sure that health IT vendors include providers who serve minority communities in their sales and marketing efforts.

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