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Blumenthal’s EHR Letter: From Minority to Priority Populations

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The government’s top health IT guru wants to avoid another “digital divide” by making sure healthcare vendors are serving minority communities in adopting electronic medical records.

“Electronic health records possess the ability to help improve both the quality and efficiency of medical care accessible by minorities, so that perhaps rates of chronic illness, mortality and morbidity decrease within these communities,” said David Blumenthal, national coordinator for health IT.

His remarks came in an open letter posted on the Health and Human Services website.

Blumenthal wants to head off what he sees as a possible digital divide, between healthcare providers who are making the switch to computerized records and those who might be left behind.

Data indicates electronic health records are less fully implemented by providers serving Hispanic, Latino and black patients who are uninsured or rely on Medicaid.

And that gap is “despite our best efforts,” Blumenthal writes in the letter.

One possible fix is the system of regional extension centers, which will widen health IT services to rural and lower-income areas, which might be underserved. There are 62 such centers nationwide.

Blumenthal said he wants these centers, the Obama administration and vendors to “work together and focus substantial efforts on these priority populations.”

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