Health Equity

Health Equity by Design Concept Paper

An important piece of HHS' commitment to health equity is advancing data equity. Our work directly supports HHS’s health equity efforts with health equity by design, a focus on including health equity at the outset as a key feature during the design, build, and implementation of health IT policies, programs, and workflows.


Health Equity by Design Concept Paper
Standards and Certification

Using Standards & Certification of Health IT to Improve Health Equity

Data-driven technologies can help make a positive impact on health equity. Through certified health IT and standards initiatives, ONC is focused on improving the use of data to represent social needs at a granular level. For example, ONC’s United States Core Data for Interoperability (USCDI) helps guide how race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and gender identity data can be consistently recorded across the health system.

In 2022, ONC added additional health equity-supporting data elements to USCDI, including disability status, mental function, tribal affiliation, and insurance information. The July 2022 Standards Bulletin provides more details about how USCDI v3 promotes equity, reduces disparities, and supports public health data interoperability. For USCDI v4 development processes, we have prioritized behavioral health data, which has disproportionate health equity impacts.

ONC’s Health IT Certification Program ensures that certified health IT supports equity considerations from the start and requires that certified health IT can capture and exchange specific health data in a consistent and standardized way. Using a health equity by design approach, the Health IT Certification program ensures that technology is enabling, rather than limiting, the availability of detailed equity-relevant health information such as race, ethnicity, and language; sexual orientation and gender identity; and social determinants of health (SDOH) data.

Fueling a New Generation of Health IT Development

Since 2018, ONC has funded the Leading Edge Acceleration Projects (LEAP) in Health IT program to invest in future-facing health IT uses and inform the innovative implementation and refinement of standards, methods, and techniques to overcome health IT challenges. The 2021 LEAP in Health IT special emphasis notice helped fund health IT areas to specifically address SDOH aligned with clinical care. We continued investing in equity-focused areas of interest in the LEAP in Health IT 2022 notice of funding opportunity. These include addressing health equity and SDOH through EHRs and equity-enhancing patient-generated health data for clinical care and research.




Social and Environmental Factors’ Effects on Health Care

An integral part of healthcare delivery involves understanding the social and environmental factors that affect patients’ lives outside of the healthcare system. Addressing inequities in these conditions, supported in part through the access and use of social determinants of health data, can help to eliminate health disparities and to improve individual and population health.

Project US@: Establishing the Standard for Patient Matching

Launched in 2021, Project US@ (‘USA’) is focused on standardizing how patient addresses are represented and used across the healthcare ecosystem. This standardization strengthens our ability to measure the social, economic, political, and physical environments that impact health. Standardized patient matching can also improve the accuracy of electronic health information and help providers match patients to their data.


Expanding Minority Representation in Public Health Informatics

ONC funded the Public Health Informatics & Technology Workforce Development Program (PHIT Workforce Program) with $73M in American Rescue Plan funds. This program will help expand minority representation in the public health informatics profession and help close gaps in our public health reporting and data analysis, particularly around race and ethnicity-specific data.

Health Equity Resources

ONC publishes blogs, journal articles, and data briefs on a regular basis to ensure everyone can easily stay current with the latest findings and learnings from our work across the health IT ecosystem.

Health Equity in Action: Opportunities to Create Sustainable Health Outcomes for the American People
Apr 14, 2022
Using Technology to Increase Equitable Access to Care: Behavioral Health
Apr 14, 2022
An Introduction to Equity by Design
Apr 13, 2022
Innovations in and Implementation of Equity by Design
Apr 13, 2022
SDOH Information Exchange Learning Forum
Mar 29, 2022
The Advancement of Interoperable SDOH Data
Sep 2, 2020
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Content last reviewed on April 11, 2024