Leveraging Health Information Technology (Health IT) to Address Minority Health and Health Disparities (R01 Clinical Trial Optional)

Program Description

NIMHD is supporting research that examines the impact of leveraging health IT to reduce disparities by increasing access to and delivery of care, improving patient–clinician communication and quality of care, and improving health outcomes for minority health and populations experiencing health disparities in the United States.

Health IT holds great potential to help reduce disparities in underserved populations by facilitating behavior change and improving quality of health care services and health outcomes. For example, electronic health records (EHRs), patient portals/patient health records (PHRs), and clinical decision support (CDS) tools may enhance patient engagement, improve implementation of clinical guidelines and patient safety, and reduce adverse outcomes. EHRs and CDS may also help improve documentation of social determinants of health (SDoH) and inform patient care for those most vulnerable who have multiple chronic diseases and higher health risks. Furthermore, health IT may facilitate clinical care coordination and equitable treatment for underserved populations.

Research is needed to understand the impact of health IT adoption on racial/ethnic disparities in outcomes and to investigate the potential unintended consequences on clinician-patient communication. Research is also needed to examine the barriers that prevent the uptake and engagement with EHRs and PHRs by medically underserved patients, effective approaches and models to deliver CDS in safety net clinical settings, and the best models for the inclusion and utility of SDoH in EHR systems/CDS tools. In addition, investigations are needed to explore the contributions of health IT to new models of primary care delivery, as well as the potential of decision support tools and new technologies to improve health outcomes for vulnerable populations with complex chronic diseases. Finally, studies are needed to determine the optimal approaches of collecting and integrating SDoH into EHRs/CDS to effectively guide clinical care and increase shared decision-making between physicians and patients, including populations experiencing health disparities.

NIH Guide No.: PAR-19-093

Page updated Jan. 12, 2024