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ONC: Interoperable Health IT Key for HIV Prevention, Health Equity Efforts

The latest National HIV/AIDS Strategy Federal Implementation Plan outlines interoperable health IT as a strategy to enhance HIV prevention efforts and health equity.

Interoperable health IT can help drive health equity to end the HIV epidemic and support people living with HIV, ONC officials said in a recent HealthITBuzz blog post.

Collaborative, community-based, and cross-sector approaches addressing clinical and social determinants of health (SDOH) are needed to support communities disproportionally affected by HIV.

The White House Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP) incorporated health IT as a strategy in the latest National HIV/AIDS Strategy Federal Implementation Plan for the United States 2022-2025.

“Strategy 4.3.2 in the plan is focused on using health IT to enhance HIV prevention efforts, support early intervention, and improve care outcomes,” they wrote. “The actions under this strategy are focused on advancing data standards to facilitate interoperability, including clinical decision support for HIV testing and treatment, HIV case management and care coordination, and SDOH information exchange.”

Current health IT standards, such as the United States Core Data for Interoperability (USCDI), support interoperable health information exchange across care settings, including within and between certified EHRs.

“USCDI v3 includes data elements for health equity factors that facilitate appropriate, quality care for people with HIV including race, ethnicity, preferred language, disability status, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, and social determinants of health,” Carmela Couderc, Whitney Weber, and Michael Wittie of ONC wrote.

“USCDI data elements such as lab results and healthcare goals used in conjunction with health equity data such as race and ethnicity also allow providers and public health agencies to measure and address disparities and the disproportionate impact of HIV on racial and ethnic minorities,” they explained.

ONC has supported recent initiatives to pilot data standards, such as the SDOH Clinical Care FHIR Implementation Guide that aligns with USCDI. The advancement of interoperability standards can support important population health strategies for HIV prevention and treatment.

For example, certified health IT enables increased range and higher quality patient data that can facilitate more informed testing strategies.

Similarly, the HHS Community Preventive Services Task Force recommended that providers use clinical decision support (CDS) tools to help them increase HIV screening.

“CDS has further potential to reduce inequities and inform testing and referrals with the advancement of standardized data elements (including those in USCDI v3) and availability of data in interoperable health IT systems,” the blog noted.

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