AHIMA releases guidelines for inclusion of LGBT patients

The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) has released a number of guidelines for health information management professionals and clinicians on improving inclusion for patients in the LGBT community, covering multiple sexual orientations and gender identities.

The brief, titled "Improved Patient Engagement for LGBT Populations," includes multiple guidelines for health information management professionals to improve inclusion of LGBT patients. Main concerns of LGBT patients include partner/spousal rights and birth certificates. The brief includes ideas on using patient portals and new fields within electronic medical records (EMRs) to improve care to LGBT patients.

“When a healthcare environment is accessible, sensitive and respectful, patients are more likely to share details of their personal health information that are needed to provide the best patient care and safety,” said AHIMA CEO Lynne Thomas Gordon, MBA. “As healthcare populations become more diverse, a focus on inclusiveness for all patient populations will promote patient engagement and help to reduce health disparities. In turn, this will help ensure health information can be found where and when it is needed.”

Expanding the use of patient portals with LGBT patients is one of the highlights of the brief. Further recommendations include:

  • Allowing patients to input personal data through a secure web or mobile app to lessen concerns some patients have at registration.
  • Including patients in every aspect of personal data, like preferred and legal names, gives clinicians a full view of patient health.
  • Changing reference ranges on lab results to fit a person’s gender. For example, a patient undergoing female-to-male reassignment would have different “normal” ranges than a patient born male.
  • Having a clear stance on nondiscrimination and adding a feeling of inclusion with pictures of traditional and non-traditional families.

The brief also recommends changes to EMRs to include information on gender identity, sexual orientation, sex assigned at birth and organ inventory to cover all informational bases of LGBT patients. The brief strongly encourages educating staff members to understand the full scope of LGBT health, sexual orientation and gender identity.

“Gathering this data will enable healthcare providers to treat transgender patients with appropriate care across the continuum, from being addressed properly on a phone call to getting the appropriate wellness reminders assessed on their organ inventory, not just their gender,” stated the brief.