February is Black History Month–an opportunity to reflect not only on our social and economic history, but also on the history of poor health status for America’s minority populations and the potential of using 21st century health information technology to assure optimal care for everyone.
The disparity in health status between minorities and white Americans was not new when it was so well documented in the 1985 Secretary’s Task Force Report on Black and Minority Health (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1985). In 1906, W.E.B. Du Bois edited a volume, The Health and Physique of the Negro American, that call attention to the disparities. In 1914, Booker T. Washington, founder of the Tuskegee Institute, addressed the issue by offering up some startling facts concerning excessive illnesses and death among blacks and the cost to the nation that were a result of this disease burden. A hundred years later we find ourselves still wrestling with disparities in health outcomes for blacks and other minorities. Read more