Health disparities are a long-standing challenge in the United States and worldwide. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and its higher impact on vulnerable and marginalized groups, more attention is being directed towards achieving health equity. With a focus on the relationship between health, social factors, and their role in public health, researchers, policy makers and the public at large have noticed and documented health disparities between a range of population groups.
The health information technology field has progressively recognized that addressing health disparities to achieve health equity needs to be a cross-sector effort. Yet, there is still groundwork to be done to raise awareness about the differences between health equity, health disparities and the social determinants of health, how health disparities affect different populations around the country, and how healthcare organizations and entities can work to begin addressing health equity. More specifically, this blog will identify some of the key areas for health IT organizations and professionals to make a measurable impact in improving health equity by promoting the consistent collection of health equity data and evaluating how health IT software can support data exchange and analytics to improve patient care and public health policy development at the local, state, and federal levels.