To ensure that our nation's underserved populations are not left behind as health information technologies are developed and employed, four groups came together to establish the National Health IT Collaborative for the Underserved (NHIT). These organizations are the Department of Health and Human Services/ Office of Minority Health (HHS/OMH), the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Foundation's Institute for e-health Policy, Summit Health Institute for Research and Education, Inc. (SHIRE) and Apptis, Inc. Since then, these initial conveners have been joined by the Association of Clinicians for the Underserved (ACU), the eHealth Initiative, Commonhealth Action, and the Health Policy Institute Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. In addition, the NHIT has mounted a long-term campaign to include a consortium of Federal agencies and other key, private-sector and community-based stakeholders.
As a long-range goal, the NHIT Collaborative and its partners will work jointly to propose health IT solutions to improve the quality of care, increase access to care and care-related services, and reduce the cost of care among the underserved, to ensure that no community is left behind.
The Alliance to Reduce Health IT Disparities
During the Fall of 2010, leaders from the Office of Minority Health and Health Information Technology, issued a public, written address to health IT vendors, asking them to vendors pay special attention to health care providers and provider organizations within underserved communities of color. This message was intended to stimulate a vision consisting of increased vendor activity within these communities, through the sale of health IT products and services at special or discounted rates.
One year later, this goal has been realized. The Alliance to Reduce Health IT Disparities is a public/private partnership whose mission is to provide access to health IT products and services to providers within underserved communities of color. Through meaningful use of electronic health records, as well as innovative applications of mobile healthcare services, The Alliance has begun to work in several areas of the United States in order to arm providers in underserved communities with the technology and instruction that will facilitate more efficient and effective provision of health care and health care services.
Several members of The Alliance also have begun to implement community-based initiatives concerning electronic health record (EHR) utilization and mobile health demonstration projects.
- MedPlus/Quest Diagnostics, the NHIT Collaborative, and HIMSS Latino have initiated an EHR discount program to healthcare providers in Houston, TX.
- The American Healthcare Information Management Association and Nortec, Inc. have begun to provide health IT education and EHR discounts to healthcare providers in Alabama, Mississippi and North Carolina.
- AT&T and the American Association of Diabetes Educators are collaborating on a diabetes self-management education demonstration project using smartphone technology.
- Emdeon will soon work with HIMSS Latino in donating and implementing EHRs to providers in underserved communities in New Jersey.