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HIMSS Recommends ONC Ensure True Health Equity by Design

HIMSS has delivered recommendations to the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for how diverse and underserved communities can be more preemptively engaged in the design, development and validation of health IT tools and systems.

The Health Equity by Design Concept Paper details how ONC will use certification and other policy levers to ensure health equity is built into interoperable health information and technology systems.

In a feedback letter to ONC, HIMSS offered recommendations to guide the office’s approach for addressing practical health IT coordination challenges facing underserved communities.

Involvement of stakeholders from underserved patient populations from the beginning of the design, development and monitoring of health information and technology tools is critical for ensuring health equity.

To facilitate engagement of these communities, HIMSS recommended ONC consider utilizing design thinking in the context of a learning health system framework to maximize equity focused innovation. User-centric design should be developed with a wide-range of health literacy and other capabilities of all patient populations.

Scalable frameworks that consider the challenges faced by healthcare delivery sites focused on caring for underserved communities should be considered when health IT standards and systems are under development. HIMSS recommended that ONC include equity by design mechanisms through its federal coordination efforts, technical guidance and certification criteria specifications for equity metrics.

To build trust in underserved communities, HIMSS called on ONC to improve and be more intentional when engaging in community collaboration with underserved communities, especially Tribal populations, when considering the design and implementation of health IT systems in a manner to promote health equity.

HIMSS is invested in working with stakeholders across the sector to co-design actionable frameworks for industry and providers to incorporate health equity by design.