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August 17, 2016

Podcast: Health information systems and their role in advancing health equity

Interviewing Megan in her office

How does national policy impact the health information available at the point of care? What role do electronic health records play in advancing health equity? Does health policy try to catch up with practice or does it set the vision for practice—or both?

In this episode, I sit down with Megan Douglas from the Morehouse School of Medicine to explore these questions at the intersection of health policy and health technology. I’m very grateful to Megan for discussing her work at the Morehouse School of Medicine’s National Center for Primary Care, where she is the Associate Project Director for Health Information Technology Policy within the Transdiciplinary Collaborative Center for Health Disparities Research.

“Health IT is the tool to help us improve health outcomes and advance health equity.”

- Megan Douglas

While we didn’t get into how a bill becomes a law, Megan did explain how a law often requires federal agencies to develop guidance on how to implement them. She also talked about a study she and her colleagues published in the American Journal of Public Health in 2015 that looked at what demographic data were required in the three different phases of implementing one specific policy, the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (also called the HITECH Act).1 She explained a bit about how and why the data requirements changed over time, and what the implications are for informatics and its part in advancing health equity.

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1 Megan Daugherty Douglas, Daniel E. Dawes, Kisha B. Holden, and Dominic Mack. Missed Policy Opportunities to Advance Health Equity by Recording Demographic Data in Electronic Health Records. American Journal of Public Health: July 2015, Vol. 105, No. S3, pp. S380-S388.