HIMSS makes recommendations on engagement of diverse communities for system design

Healthcare Information and Management Systems (HIMSS) has delivered a series of recommendations on how to engage “diverse and underserved communities” in the design, development and validation of health IT tools and systems, including prioritising design thinking and scalable frameworks.

The recommendations follow the Office of the National Coordinator’s (ONC) concept paper on health equity by design, which sets out how ONC plans to build health equity into information and technology systems. The recommendations from HIMSS are hoped to help “guide the office’s approach for addressing practical health IT coordination challenges facing underserved communities.”

They include ensuring that stakeholders from underserved patient populations are involved from the beginning of the design and throughout development and monitoring of systems; utilising design thinking in the context of a learning health system framework “to maximise equity focused innovation”; and developing user-centric design with a range of health literacy and other capabilities, taking into account all patient populations.

Another recommendation is to implement scalable frameworks that consider the challenges of healthcare delivery sites focused on providing care for underserved community, when health IT standards and systems are in the development stages. Additionally, HIMSS urges ONC to include equity by design mechanisms via federal coordination efforts, technical guidance and certification criteria specifications.

In order to build trust within underserved communities, HIMSS has “called on ONC to improve and be more intentional when engaging in community collaboration with underserved communities, especially Tribal populations, when considering the design and implementation of health IT systems in a manner to promote health equity.”

The feedback letter from HIMSS can be found here, alongside the ONC’s concept paper on health equity by design here.

Earlier in the year, HTN explored recommendations from The Department of Health and Social Care on equity in medical devices, making 18 recommendations designed to address “unfair biases” identified through the course of a review.

We also hosted Dr Hatim Abdulhussein, previously national clinical lead for AI and digital media workforce at the Directorate of Innovation, Digital and Transformation at Health Education England, for a discussion on how AI can be used to improve equity in healthcare. Catch up with what Hatim had to say here.