HHS to Launch Workgroup to Help Eliminate Health Disparities

David Hunt, M.D. | March 31, 2011

Despite continued advances in heath care and technology, racial and ethnic minorities continue to have higher rates of disease, disability, and premature death than non-minorities. In response to this discrepancy, HHS is preparing to launch the National Partnership for Action, which will be the first HHS national plan to eliminate health disparities—persistent gaps between the health status of minorities and non-minorities. Health information technology (HIT) is a critical aspect of this plan. 

Health care providers—and the medical community as a whole—must develop methods to bridge the many barriers that prevent adoption and implementation of HIT in underserved communities of color.

Many HHS agencies and offices have recently implemented HIT programs that may benefit the communities seeing the highest rates of disparate care—typically, underserved communities of color. However, there has not yet been a comprehensive strategic plan to take stock of the benefits of those programs and leverage them with departmental efforts to reduce health disparities. To address this need, we are assembling an interagency workgroup to identify key opportunities and a strategic path forward.

On April 5, the HHS HIT Disparities Workgroup will convene for six weeks to create an HIT strategic plan that will focus on the following three objectives:

  1. Measure HIT adoption and implementation outcomes within underserved communities of color;
  2. Discuss and implement projects to help shrink the digital divide (as we define it); and
  3. Establish sustainable channels of communication between agencies in order to accomplish the above objectives.

The National Partnership for Action’s website contains a number of resources that can help you get involved in reducing and eliminating health disparities and ensuring that all Americans have full and meaningful access to information about their personal health and individual rights. No matter where you live, work, or play, you can be part of the solution! Learn more about how to join the effort as a community group, a state agency, or a partner.  Stay tuned for more information and consider how your agency or office can be a part of this work moving forward.