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Improving Access to Electronic Health Information for Older Adults and People with Disabilities

A research, education, and awareness project
Visually Impaired Woman using desktop computer and keyboard
Key Takeaways
  • Research brings forward new federal guidance on web accessibility and nondiscrimination in telehealth.
  • Baseline accessibility data gives a starting place for hospitals to improve their digital experience.

AHIMA as an enterprise recognizes, through its policy and program work, the importance of individual access to care and the challenges that must be addressed for individuals to access their health information. 

As hospitals and healthcare systems across the United States prioritize initiatives centered on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG), our research projects bring visibility to the newly issued Guidance on Web Accessibility and the ADA by the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division and the newly issued Guidance on Nondiscrimination in Telehealth by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights and provides institutions with a starting place to improve their digital experience in a way that is compliant, accessible, and patient and data-informed.

Here's what we're working on...

  • Qualitative: AHIMA Foundation, in partnership with Knowbility, created a survey for older adults and patients with disabilities to get their lived experiences and insights on accessing their health information electronically. Results will be shared in the form of an issue paper, within campaign materials, and within conference presentations to improve the patient experience.
  • Quantitative: AHIMA Foundation, in partnership with Mathematica, completed the data collection and analysis of over 100 top hospital website homepages for WCAG compliance. The authors are sharing preliminary data findings and recommendations during their AHIMA22 session, WCAG... W3C... WAI... Wait, What? Web Accessibility Compliance Explained, with an issue paper and publication to follow.  

When websites and web-based tools, such as patient portals, are designed for people with a broad range of abilities it benefits everyone – including older adults and people without disabilities.  

"Outside of a public health emergency, digital accessibility is something we should care about or take ownership for as health information professionals."

- Aurae Beidler, MHA, RHIA, CHC, CHPS

Published 06/08/2022
Last Updated 09/13/2022
Source AHIMA Foundation (Copyright © 2022)