EHR data collection helps reduce LGBT health disparities

According to a new report released by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), the voluntary collection of sexual orientation and gender identity data for inclusion in electronic health records may be the first step towards reducing or eliminating certain obstacles that LGBT patients face when accessing healthcare, including access to preventative and reproductive health services, HIV testing, and mental healthcare.
The IOM held a one-day discussion workshop in October of 2012 on the methods and usefulness of collecting such personal data, and concluded that in order to reduce discrimination and provide a detailed look at the LGBT health landscape, providers must be trained to discuss issues of sexual preference and gender identity in order to build stronger, non-judgmental relationships with patients who may lack access to care – or might simply be too embarrassed or fearful to engage with a physician on a regular basis.
It’s a common joke among attendees of women’s colleges that it’s easy to stun campus nurses who ask about condom use and pregnancy prevention by answering “I use lesbianism as my birth control”. But the reality is that the answer does confuse and shock healthcare providers all too often, and their reactions range from dismissive, to flustered, to actively offensive. An IOM study from 2011 backs up the anecdotal evidence that lesbian and bisexual women access preventative health services less frequently than their heterosexual peers due to factors like these uncomfortable exchanges.
Jennifer Bresnick reports for EHR Intelligence here.

Filed Under: Marginalized Populations in Healthcare

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