The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology is seeking public comment on a draft plan to provide equal access for all Americans to the benefits of health I.T.

Worried of a new type of "digital divide," then-national coordinator David Blumenthal, M.D., in October 2010 called on electronic health records vendors to ensure their sales and marketing activities include providers serving minority communities. Under the draft plan now soliciting comment, "the government will endeavor to assure that underserved and at-risk individuals enjoy these benefits to the same extent as all other citizens," according to a new posting on ONC's HealthITBuzz blog.

Among other initiatives, the draft plan includes such proposals as:

* Ensure federal health I.T. grant programs emphasize the importance of equal access,

* Use the state health information exchange programs to identify HIE disparities,

* Better use I.T. to track and analyze stratification of quality measures by race and ethnicity data,

* Include medically underserved areas in future government health I.T. pilots and demonstrations, and

* Hold an annual federal conference on use of health I.T. in underserved communities.

The request for comments is available here.


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