Consumer coalition plan tackles health disparities for MU Stage 3

The Consumer Partnership for eHealth, a coalition of patient, consumer and labor organizations, this month published its plan to address health disparities in Meaningful Use Stage 3 and beyond.

The plan focuses on data collection and use to identify disparities; language, literacy and communication; and care coordination and planning. It integrates disparities reduction with other Stage 3 criteria to improve the identification and understanding of disparities while improving care. 

Some of the plan's recommendations include:

  • Electronic health records should be able to incorporate new types of data collection, such as sexual orientation, occupation and industry codes, and cognitive and other disabilities
  • EHRs should incorporate automatic links translating medical jargon in the patient's preferred language
  • Blue button functionality should be implemented for Medicaid and CHIP beneficiaries

The plan was submitted to ONC's Health IT Policy Committee in response to its request for comment on Stage 3, published in the Federal Register last November.

"We believe the 'Meaningful Use' EHR Incentive Program offers a significant, unprecedented opportunity to reduce health disparities by addressing not only the multi-faceted needs of individuals and groups, but also the overlapping needs of all populations," the plan states. "To date, this potential has not been fully realized, and it is an opportunity we cannot afford to squander."

The Health IT Policy Committee and its work groups have been developing recommendations for Stage 3, which could begin as early as 2016. Stage 2 is still on track to begin in 2014, although stakeholders have expressed concern that the industry is not prepared.

To learn more:
- read the plan (.pdf)