The role of informatics inreducing healthcare disparities
Definition of healthcaredisparities Healthcare disparities refer to differences in access to or availability of facilities and services. Health status disparities refer to the variation in rates of disease occurrence and disabilities between socioeconomic and/or geographically defined population groups.
A few common healthcare disparities Race/ethnicity Geographical location Age
Snapshot of Minorities in HealthCare Greater than 20% of population are minorities Higher chances for disease than Caucasians Higher morbidity and mortality rates Causes include: Lack of education Unhealthy living Poverty
Technology and Minorities• E-Learning – Access to information that could improve: • Prevention of disease through healthier lifestyles • Disease management • Re-admission rates since patients are better managing their disease• Tele-health – Improves access to specialists • Minorities often need access to: – Cardiologists – Endocrinologists – Oncologists
Snapshot of Rural Health Care 20% of the population live in rural areas 9% of physicians practice in rural areas Patients in rural areas are: Typically older Less able to access transportation Lower education Higher poverty rates Have more disabilities
Snapshot of Rural Health Care Cont. Low penetration of Health Care Information Technologies due to: Nursing shortage Lack of informatics competence of healthcare workers Poor connectivity
Technology and Rural HealthCare• Electronic Health Records • Can link large health care systems with smaller rural hospitals » Increased access to resources » Improves continuity of care• Health Information Exchanges • Connects urban and rural health facilities » Increased access to resources » Improves continuity of care » Reduces costs of providing care » Increases access to specialists
Technology and Rural HealthCare Telehealth Provides rural facilities access to urban health care facilities Increased access to specialists Better patient outcomes Tele-home Care Able to monitor patients at home Reduce re-admissions to hospital Enable patients to manage diseases at home
Technology and Rural HealthCare• Social Networking – Health related social networking sites • Patient related – Education on disease management, nutrition and healthy lifestyle • Clinician Related – Improved practice – Increases knowledge – Improved outcomes
Technology and Rural HealthCare• E-learning – Patients have access to education material from anywhere • Disease management • Less re-admits to hospitals – Clinicians have access to ongoing professional training • Increases trained resources in the rural areas, helping with workforce shortages
Snapshot of the elderly relating tohealthcare Many elderly people live on a small fixed income which limits access to healthcare. Poor mobility limits ability of the elderly to get to appointments easily and quickly. Often the elderly lack adequate transportation to physically go to appointments again relating back to income limitations. Lack of internet access currently only 15% of Americans over the age of 65 have internet access in their homes.
Some ways technology can helpmanage health for the elderly E-learning tools can help empower the patient with better self management of their diseases. Having a personal health record allows the patient to have a more complete and accurate record available for all physicians to review at the time of office visits or hospital stays.
How technology can helpmanage health for the elderly(con’t) Tele-health can help provide monitoring of chronic conditions in the home setting which potentially could help to prevent inpatient hospital admissions or high utilization of emergency room visits.
So why here and why now? "At a time when millions of lower-income, previously uninsured individuals will be gaining healthcare coverage through health reform, it is vital that both public and private delivery systems develop strategies to ensure that the great benefits of HIT systems are shared equitably. This is a social justice imperative."
Conclusions Currently we are at a crossroads in the future of healthcare in our country. Millions of people will be insured through the implementation of the healthcare reform act adding them into the healthcare system. Through the strategic use of technology management with informatics we can help manage this larger population. Additionally with the use of technology in underserved minorities who are inadequately serviced currently in the healthcare system we can hopefully help to balance the scales and render more equitable quality care to all.
References Baldwin, D.M. (2003, Jan 31). Disparities in heath and health care: Focusing efforts to eliminate unequal burdens. Online Journal of Issues in Nursing. Retried from http://gm6.nursingworld.org/MainMenuCat egories/ANAMarketplace/ANAPeriodicals/ OJIN/TableofContents/Volume82003/No1J an2003/DisparitiesinHealthandHealthCare. html
References Effiken, J.A., Abbott, P. (2009). Health IT- enabled care for underserved rural populations: The role of nursing. J AM Med Inform Assoc, 16(4), 439-445. doi:10.1197/jamia.m2973