CMS supports collection of sex orientation, gender data

Cahill: More data can help elders.
Cahill: More data can help elders.

Researchers believe collecting sexual orientation and gender identity data will improve care for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents.

In an article in LGBT Health, investigators discussed the importance of recording sexual orientation and gender identity correctly, and assisting providers and clinical staff in their efforts. 

“Many LGBT elders fear discrimination in healthcare and senior settings, either from other age peers or from staff,” said Sean Cahill, Ph.D., director of health policy research at The Fenway Institute and the study's lead author. 

“Collecting population-based data over time could help us better understand how LGBT elders experience long-term care and what changes in policy and services may be needed to ensure that they receive nondiscriminatory, culturally competent and affirming care.”

In October, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology said they will require that all electronic health record systems certified under the Meaningful Use incentive program have the capacity to collect sexual orientation and gender identity information from patients.

The 2015 Edition “demographics” certification criterion adds sexual orientation and gender identity data to the 2015 Edition Base EHR definition, which is a part of the definition of Certified EHR Technology. This requirement will allow a patient's care team to identify interventions and treatments most helpful to a particular patient. For example, a transgender man should be offered a cervical exam if he still retains a cervix.

The ONC rule notes that certification does not require providers to collect sexual orientation and gender identity information. Rather, the requirement applies to vendors who are building certified EHR systems and health institutions and practices that are using these systems as part of their participation in the Meaningful Use program.