Promoting health equity for deaf patients through the electronic health record

J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2021 Dec 28;29(1):213-216. doi: 10.1093/jamia/ocab239.


Language status can be conceptualized as an equity-relevant variable, particularly for non-English-speaking populations. Deaf and hard-of-hearing (DHH) individuals who use American Sign Language (ASL) to communicate comprise one such group and are understudied in health services research. DHH individuals are at high-risk of receiving lower-quality care due to ineffective patient-provider communication. This perspective outlines barriers to health equity research serving DHH ASL-users due to systems developed by large-scale informatics networks (eg, the Patient-Centered Clinical Outcomes Research Network), and institutional policies on self-serve cohort discovery tools. We list potential to help adequate capture of language status of DHH ASL-users to promote health equity for this population.

Keywords: American Sign Language; PCORnet; deaf; electronic health record; language.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Electronic Health Records
  • Health Equity*
  • Health Promotion
  • Humans
  • Persons With Hearing Impairments*
  • Sign Language