The Federal Strategic Plan to Reduce Health IT Disparities

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[By Staff Reporters]

Working to ensure all Americans benefit from health IT is one of the principles guiding the development and execution of the federal health IT strategy. The Federal Health IT Strategic Plan that was released for public comment on March 25, 2011, states that we will strive to: Support health information technology (heath IT) benefits for all.

All Americans should have equal access to quality health care. This includes the benefits conferred by health IT.: The government will endeavor to assure that underserved and at-risk individuals enjoy these benefits to the same extent as all other citizens.

Health IT Disparities Workgroup

For the past few months, the Health IT Disparities Workgroup — comprised of staff from agencies of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS): with strategic and operational programs in health IT and co-chaired by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) and the Office of Minority Health (OMH) — has led a focused effort to further define the federal government’s strategies and tactics to reduce health IT disparities within underserved communities. The result of this process will reflect our commitment to do more to reduce health IT disparities.

The Health IT Disparities Workgroup is developing a federal plan to reduce health IT disparities.: A draft set of strategies/tactics — aligned with the five goals of the Federal Health IT Strategic Plan — is included below: We hope you will assist us by providing comments on the following questions:

  • What do you think of the draft strategies / tactics listed below?
  • What specific activities would you like to see the federal government take on to reduce health IT disparities?


Health information technologies — such as electronic health records (EHRs), telemedicine, mobile health, and electronic disease registries — have been identified as effective means of helping to deliver safe, effective, affordable health care services; coordinate care across providers and clinical settings; and provide critical population data that may catalyze further policy and delivery system innovations.

Meaningful Use

The growing adoption and meaningful use of health IT is even more critical within the context of underserved communities. Within both rural and urban underserved communities, access to primary and specialty health care resources can be limited. This scarcity in many instances contributes to reduced quality of health care and of health outcomes for people residing in these communities. Within underserved communities, the use of health IT has demonstrated it can improve health outcomes, both from an individual and community-/system-wide perspective.

Federal Planning

Federal planning efforts focused at reducing health disparities, including The National Stakeholder’s Strategy and the HHS Action Plan to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities, highlight the proliferation of meaningful use of health IT within underserved communities as a critical objective. This draft set of strategies/tactics (see below) for the federal plan to reduce health IT disparities aims to ensure that underserved communities realize the full benefits of health IT.


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