Thursday, October 8, 2015

LGBT Federal Health Inclusion

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services have taken the landmark step of addressing disparities affecting our LGBT community in health care by including sexual orientation & gender identity (SO/GI) data in requirements for Electronic Health Records (EHRs) certified under the Meaningful Use program. The new final rules from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) & the Office of the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology (ONC), require all EHR systems certified under Stage 3 of Meaningful Use to allow users to record, change & access structured data on sexual orientation & gender identity. This requirement is part of the 2015 Edition “demographics” certification criterion & adds SO/GI data to the 2015 Edition Base EHR definition, which is a part of the definition of Certified EHR Technology (CEHRT). Sean Cahill, Director of Health Policy Research at the Fenway Institute stated, “Including sexual orientation & gender identity in the Meaningful Use incentive program is one of the most important things our government has done to promote better understanding of LGBT health disparities & interventions to reduce them.” Kellan Baker, Senior Fellow with the LGBT Research & Communications Project at the Center for American Progress concluded “Authoritative sources such as the Institute of Medicine, the Joint Commission, & Healthy People 2020 have all emphasized the importance of collecting more & better data on the health needs & experiences of LGBT people. Including SO/GI in the demographics criterion for EHR Meaningful Use is a crucial step forward to improving care for LGBT communities.”
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