HHS Highlights New Research to Avoid Data-Based Discrimination

The director of the study says decisions must be made intentionally to “mitigate and prevent racial and ethnic bias.“

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) highlighted a new paper released this month showing how the healthcare industry can avoid data management practices that lead to discrimination.

Data can help large companies make complex decisions quickly, using algorithms to sort through their data pools to see who is most likely to pay back loans quickly, use credit cards well, or require life-saving healthcare procedures. However, the data is recorded by humans, and some may record data that discriminates against those with ethnic-sounding names, lower income levels, and recorded disabilities. Algorithms pick up on those biases and perpetuate them whenever companies rely on their databases without making an active decision to prevent those biases.

“Promise aside, algorithmic bias has harmed minoritized communities in housing, banking, and education, and healthcare is no different,” said Director Robert Valdez of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, who oversaw the development of this paper. “Algorithm developers, algorithm users, healthcare executives, and regulators must make conscious decisions to mitigate and prevent racial and ethnic bias in tools that may perpetuate healthcare inequities and reduce care quality.”

As the Lord Leads, Pray with Us…

  • For Director Valdez as he raises awareness to possible discrimination in the healthcare sector.
  • For U.S. officials in government agencies as they seek to ensure equitable access and care.

Sources: Department of Health and Human Services

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