If you have not heard yet, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced a ruling that is a huge advancement in the provision of health care to LGBT people. In the new final rules from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology (ONC), all electronic health systems (EHR) certified under Stage 3 of Meaningful Use are required to allow users to record, change, and access data on sexual orientation and gender identity!
If you are not familiar with Meaningful Use, here is a website that gives a quick overview of the objectives and different stages. In essence, Meaningful Use is using EHR technology to improve quality and safety, engage patients, and improve care coordination. Providers and hospitals need to meet certain criteria to attain Meaningful Use, qualifying them for payment incentives.
Although this latest ruling does NOT require providers and hospitals to collect sexual orientation and gender identity data, it does require EHR vendors to build these questions in their systems. Moreover, the ruling adopts replacing outdated and offensive terminology and replacing them with best practice questions.
It is a victory in the advancement of understanding LGBT health disparities!
The Fenway Institute published a press release on this announcement and is worth the read!