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All Things HIT

Nov 23 2010   11:18PM GMT

Cutting IT Disparities Should Go Beyond “ASKING”!

Posted by: AllinHIT

Dr. Blumenthal and Dr. Garth Graham, HHS deputy assistant secretary for minority health, recently “asked” for EHR vendors to address the low EHR adoption rate within their communities.  This weak and insulting request, will receive a vendor response equal to those attributes.  The real answer is to dedicate some funding to educating, and implementing Health IT, within physician practices serving the urban, and underpriviledged communities.  Don’t get me wrong, there are HHS HIT allocations to Community Health Centers, the Indian Service Agency (more on that later).  However, considering 10.8 % of African Americans as well as 10.6% of Mexican Americans, there is a great case for allocating dollars to the African American community and the providers that serve them.  As a minority, I must say the insulting part of them “asking”, is not throwing any of that 20 billion HITECH dollars directly to addressing it.

The dollars are justified, regardless of ethnic reasoning. Lets agree that treating diseases such as diabetes will benefit with implementing EHR’s, connecting to the HIE’s, reaching Meaningful Use, and other Health IT projects. By the way, more “bulls-eyed” targeting of dollars; taking advantage of technology, within ACO’s, lowering eposodic events among the medicare, diabetic community, the largest population of those with the disease! Consider the savings of addressing the high cost of diabetes, among the population that it effects most!  This I coin as a “bulleyed approach” to controlling costs.  As reported in the 2007 American Diabetes Association’s, Economic Costs of Diabetes, 1 of every 10 dollars spent on healthcare is on this disease, it is one of the largest contributors to the high cost of healthcare.  

To their credit, HHS’s Indian Health Service, has recently announced that Vangent, one of Health IT’s largest consulting firm, will spend 3.3 million dollars within the Indian community, implementing Health IT.  This is great considering that 9% of Indians will have diabetes, and implementing CDSS and other technology tools, will assist in disease management for their community.  However, the same amount of effort should be placed on the community, with the need most.  This “bulls-eyed” approach to managing cost, through Health IT, deserves more than “asking”!

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