Health IT Must Be Accessible, Affordable and Sustainable for Underserved Patients
Health IT has the potential to advance public health by improving compliance for patients with chronic conditions, reducing medical errors, and reducing disparities in treatment.
However for providers treating underserved patients, Health IT adoption has not always been swift. Multiple barriers including the cost of implementing Health IT, have hindered widespread adoption.
But in places like Georgia, change is happening.
Health care providers are leveraging the benefits of increasing interoperability and portability of health information to improve population health outcomes.
The Georgia Health Information Technology Extension Center (GA-HITEC), part of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology’s (ONC’s) Regional Extension Center (REC) program, is working to help health care providers use Health IT tools to better coordinate care for patients living with many of these chronic conditions.
One local provider, Dr. Jeffeory White, a rural pediatrician in Northwest Georgia is using an EHR to improve the processes and patient experience of his own clinic. With his EHR, he is able to quickly notify his patients about pertinent health issues like medication recalls or issue reminders about annual vaccines, and at the same time check the accuracy of their medical records.
Underserved patients face unique challenges, and so do the doctors that treat them.
The former worry that they may not be able to get the care they need when they become ill, while the latter worry about things like low health literacy among their patients, and how that may hinder communication and compliance.
Nevertheless programs like this offer hope. However, it is very important that national Health IT initiatives that focus on increasing adoption ensure that doctors who care for underserved patients have access to these tools.
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