A joint letter from Dr. David Blumenthal from the Office of National Coordinator for Health Information Technology and Dr. Garth Graham from the Office of Minority Health on October 18, 2010 urges electronic health record vendors to reach out to ensure that providers who serve racial and ethnic minority communities are included in the expected widespread adoption and “meaningful use” of EHRs over the next several years.

Unfortunately, the letter does not note the many opportunities for EHR vendors to develop and include features and functions in their EHR systems which would specifically assist providers in identifying and reducing health care disparities, such as ensuring standardized collection of race, ethnicity, and language data; linkage of such patient demographic data to all quality measures to enable stratification of that quality data; and making all patient-facing materials available in multiple languages and formats (to overcome health literacy, disability and cultural barriers among diverse patients.

The National HIT Collaborative for the Underserved, supported in part by the Office of Minority Health, is promoting these issues among providers, EHR vendors and racial and ethnic minority communities.

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