Information technology has the potential to bring great improvements in the quality of healthcare in many different areas. One of those areas is reducing the disparities in treatment among different communities, especially in minority communities.

Computer technology can facilitate the collection and use of demographic data to improve the quality of care for minority communities. Hospitals that have patient race, ethnicity and language information in their databases would be able to more readily identify disparities in their practice settings and develop policies to take care of them.

Say, for example, the data shows that there are big differences in the number of admissions for certain health conditions, admissions that could have been prevented with better outpatient care. For example, the admission rate for African-American children with asthma is more than three times that of white children. And these admissions could have been prevented with better outpatient care.

The same is true for adults with diabetes with long-term complications. There are big differences also in the admission rates between African-American and white adults with the disease, admissions which are preventable. Healthcare organizations would be able to more readily identify these disparities using information technology, and then put policies in place to take care of them.

The electronic medical record system can also help hospitals and physicians manage data on language needs to provide better services to people with limited English. For example, when healthcare staff members collect information on a person’s language and communications needs, the technology will enable them to easily choose appropriate caregivers to fit the situation. The aggregation of data may show them that they need to provide more bilingual physicians or interpreters for particular languages. When the language preference of the patient is available electronically, hospitals are also able to have a better idea of day-to-day patient needs and can provide the appropriate interpretation services.

Organizations are also currently working on ways to make electronic health records accessible to people with disabilities.

Information technology can also help relieve disparities in treatment by making it easier for minority communities to access healthcare. It does this by streamlining the enrollment process. Applicants can become enrolled by completing a single online form.

Applicants need only complete a single online form to be enrolled in a coverage program for which they are eligible. With electronic access, users can also update their health and demographic information immediately from any location, rather than making changes through the mail or at the physician’s office. Some states have already established online enrollment applications.

Digital records also reduce disparities in care by providing clinicians with immediate information, which will enable better clinical decision making through the use of health reminders and alerts.

If your hospital, medical center or other medical facility is looking for employees who are well-versed in the of-the-minute healthcare IT tools and strategies, contact Morgan Hunter Healthcare. We can – and will – source and place candidates who are experts in assessments, project management, activation support, implementations, and more. We look forward to hearing from you.