Web Accessibility Critical for Access to Health Information | New

Chicago, Illinois, Sept. 27, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Currently, the American healthcare system is failing its elderly and disabled patients on the digital front. Web accessibility – or digital accessibility more broadly – involves designing web page content to include people with visual, motor, hearing, speech or cognitive disabilities. More than 61 million people in the United States (nearly 1 in 4) and more than one billion people worldwide have one of these disabilities, including 46% of people age 60 and older.

In recognition of Digital Inclusion Week (October 3-7) and October Health Literacy Month, the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) Foundation, l AHIMA-affiliated charity, released a briefing note titled “The Critical Role of Web Accessibility in Accessing, Understanding and Using Health Information,” with key insights from an audit of over 100 home pages of leading US hospital websites and a survey of elderly and disabled patients.

“The inaccessibility of the web prevents those who often need life-saving and life-saving health care from accessing it online wherever they live,” said Angela Thi Bennett, director of digital equity, National Telecommunications Administration and of Information, US Department of Commerce. “The Digital Equity Act programs will allow Americans with disabilities to independently navigate digital health systems and use websites designed to meet their needs.”

The main conclusions of the AHIMA Foundation dossier include:

  • Hospitals and healthcare systems in the United States need ongoing education on the role of web accessibility in ADA compliance, given the importance of recently released federal guidelines.
  • The home pages of most top US hospitals have many accessibility errors and do not conform to WCAG 2.1 criteria.
  • Elderly people and patients with disabilities face barriers to accessing their health information electronically; many have struggled to use a hospital website or patient portal.
  • Multi-sector collaboration, including user-based testing with patients with disabilities and the elderly, is needed to improve digital accessibility in the healthcare ecosystem.

The AHIMA Foundation research findings included in this brief bring visibility to the recently released guidelines on web accessibility and the ADA by the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice and the recently released guidelines on Nondiscrimination in Telehealth by the Office of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. civil rights. As hospitals and healthcare systems across the United States prioritize initiatives focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG), this research provides institutions a starting point to improve their digital experience in a way that is compliant, accessible, and patient- and data-driven.

“No healthcare facility in the country would leave its main entrance without an accessible physical entrance, but we found that there was still work to be done to ensure equitable entry through the facility’s digital front door,” said commented Amanda Krupa, MSc, Director of the AHIMA Foundation and lead author of the briefing note. “Everyone appreciates a good user experience, but it’s critical from a healthcare access perspective, as the population in this country is aging and increasingly relies on technology to get both health information and care.”

The number of Americans age 65 and older is expected to nearly double, from 52 million in 2018 to 95 million by 2060, and one of the goals of HealthyPeople 2030 is to “increase the proportion of people who can consult, download and send their electronic health information.”

“Outside of a public health emergency, digital accessibility is something we should care about or take ownership of as health information professionals,” remarked Aurae Beidler, MHA, RHIA, CHC , CHPS, elected director to the AHIMA Board of Directors, former chief compliance officer and chief privacy officer at the Linn County Department of Health Services in Albany, Oregon.

To educate and inform health information professionals about this:

The AHIMA Foundation is sponsoring the session “WCAG…W3C…WAI…Wait, what?” Web Accessibility Compliance Explained,” at the AHIMA Global Conference in Columbus, Ohio on October 11 and virtually on November 10, 2022.

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About the AHIMA Foundation:

The AHIMA Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and philanthropic arm of the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) dedicated to empowering people with health information literacy. health to achieve better health outcomes. Founded in 1962, AHIMA Foundation programs, research, and projects help families make informed health decisions, guide evidence-based health system policies and practices, and educate and train future and current health information professionals. Recognizing that health information is human information, the AHIMA Foundation works intensively to bring together interdisciplinary stakeholders to identify unmet needs in public health and education. Learn more at AHIMAFoundation.org and follow on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube.

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Jennifer McGinley JLM Strategic Communications 410-303-2252 [email protected]

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