HHS updates interoperability standards for gender identity and sexuality

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The HHS office of the national health information technology coordinator on Friday unveiled new standards to enable the electronic exchange of patient data regarding the social determinants of health, sexual orientation and patient data. gender identity.

The second iteration of the United States Baseline Data for Interoperability OCR will allow providers to begin planning for the collection and use of data on social determinants and gender identity in clinical settings.

“This is a totally excellent and perhaps somewhat belated update from the USCDI to include these new markers of gender and race and things that will help ensure that the data exchanged around patients is complete. and include critical information needed for better public health, ”said Lisa Bari, acting CEO of the Strategic Health Information Exchange Collaborative.

Using public comment and IT health submissions, the ONC created three new standardized data classes and 22 new data elements, many of which are intended to help marginalized and underrepresented people receive proper care.

While the update does not require medical professionals to record or share data on social determinants, sexual orientation or gender identity, the CDC said that without this information, “LGBT patients and their specific health care needs cannot be identified, the health disparities they experience cannot be addressed, and important health services may not be provided. “

The data will help providers identify patients’ non-medical needs such as accommodation and transportation, and provide accurate, compassionate and safe care, Dr Rachel Levine, HHS assistant secretary for health, said in a statement. .

According to the HHS, the social determinants that can impact a person’s ability to manage their health are also important that healthcare professionals need to know in order to provide quality care.

The ONC is looking for ways to positively impact the work being done across the country to reduce health disparities and improve the social determinants of health by making datasets more interoperable. said Bari.

Health Informatics Developers will be able to update their Certified Health Informatics to support new versions of the USCDI and provide updates to vendors using the standards version advancement process. ‘ONC, which will take place in fall 2021. Standards development organizations will work to update implementation guides and other technical requirements in line with the new data elements of USCDI Version 2 .

Having data on gender, sexuality, and ethnicity can help providers understand gaps in care and better direct resources. This is especially important during the pandemic and with COVID-19 testing and vaccinations, Bari said.

“This is just a critical building block for nationwide interoperability and nationwide data sharing to help reduce disparities,” Bari said.

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