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HIT's impact on health disparities: Will it help or harm?
Date:3/7/2011

Washington, DC-- A diverse group of healthcare stakeholders address questions related to health information technology's (HIT) impact on health and healthcare disparities in a two-day invitational roundtable on March 7-8, sponsored by the Kaiser Permanente Institute for Health Policy, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and AMIA, the association for informatics professionals. Participants represent the perspectives and concerns of community health centers, health systems, health plans, clinicians and other providers, and consumers. A background paper, the roundtable agenda, and participants list are online at www.amia.org/disparities-roundtable

Roundtable sponsors note that electronic medical records and Internet-enabled tools such as patient websites and personal health records hold great potential for improving care for all populations, especially those with chronic conditions like diabetes or heart disease. However, a growing body of evidence suggests that such technologies could inadvertently increase existing health disparities if the benefits are available mainly to those who have the technical access, skills, supports, and incentives to use them. Less advantaged populations, including many seniors, minorities, low-income, and physically disabled adults may be less able to take advantage of these technologies due to lack of technical access, skills, and literacy; lower health literacy; language barriers; and other issues. In addition, these same at-risk populations tend to be served by under-resourced providers who themselves lack the costly and sophisticated HIT systems that support quality improvements.

The roundtable's focus is on public and private policies and practice strategies that could mitigate potential disparities in the use of HIT; the roles of health plans and health systems in addressing the issues; and relevant research priorities, among other questions.
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Contact: Nancy Light
nlight@amia.org
American Medical Informatics Association
Source:Eurekalert

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