Benefits of Implementing and Improving Collection of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Data in Electronic Health Records

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Abstract

Individuals in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities experience several disparities in physical and mental health (eg, cardiovascular disease and depression), as well as difficulty accessing care that is compassionate and relevant to their unique needs. Access to care is compromised in part due to inadequate information systems that fail to capture identity data. Beginning in January 2018, meaningful use criteria dictate that electronic health records have the capability to collect data related to sexual orientation and gender identity of patients. Nurse informaticists play a vital role in the process of developing new electronic health records that are sensitive to the needs and identities of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities. Improved collection of sexual orientation and gender identity data will advance the identification of health disparities experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender populations. More inclusive electronic health records will allow providers to monitor risk behavior, assess progress toward the reduction of disparities, and provide healthcare that is patient and family centered. Concrete suggestions for the modification of electronic health record systems are presented, as well as how nurse informaticists may be able to bridge gaps in provider knowledge and discomfort through interprofessional collaboration when implementing changes in electronic health records.

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