Can Health IT Reduce Health Care Disparities?

The Public's Health

Health and health care disparities with respect to race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status continue to be a serious problem at the national and state levels. A 2013 study by the Office of the National Coordinator suggests health information technology has a role in addressing systems that will improve care for populations facing health disparities. For example, technological improvements in data collection and analysis could pinpoint disparities and assist providers in giving culturally appropriate care.

“There are new tools to reach a larger number of patients,” said Massachusetts Medical Society President Ronald Dunlap, M.D. “Given the smaller number of providers, these tools may allow us to get very good outcomes, at lower cost, and really put the patients in charge of their care.”

Technology systems, such as blood pressure monitoring applications on smartphones, could have positive effects on patient engagement, which could in turn help reduce health care disparities, he said.

Leaders in health care, public health, and policy will discuss health IT, as well as policy, practice, and systems changes to reduce health care disparities at the Public Health Leadership Forum on April 4. The Forum is sponsored by MMS and the national Commission to End Health Care Disparities.

To learn more, visit www.massmed.org/disparities.

—Komal Karnik
MMS Public Health Staff

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