STATEMENT: New HHS Rules Require Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Data Collection in Electronic Health Records Program

Washington, D.C. — Center for American Progress Senior Fellow Kellan Baker issued the following statement after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a pair of new final rules that represent a landmark step in addressing disparities affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, or LGBT, people in health care. The rules mandate the inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity data in requirements for systems certified under the Meaningful Use of Electronic Health Records program. The statement is an excerpt of a joint statement issued by CAP and The Fenway Institute.

Authoritative sources such as the Institute of Medicine, the Joint Commission, and Healthy People 2020 have all emphasized the importance of collecting more and better data on the health needs and experiences of LGBT people. Including sexual orientation and gender identity in the demographics criterion for the Meaningful Use of Electronic Health Records program is a crucial step forward to improving care for LGBT communities.

The new rules—from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Office of the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology—require all electronic health record systems, or EHRs, certified under Stage 3 of the Meaningful Use program to allow users to record, change, and access structured data on sexual orientation and gender identity. This requirement is part of the 2015 edition “demographics” certification criterion and adds sexual orientation and gender identity data to the 2015 edition base EHR definition, which is part of the definition of certified EHR technology, or CEHRT.

The rules note that this requirement will improve LGBT patient health by helping health providers better understand the needs of their LGBT patients and offer appropriate health care services. They also note that providers are not required to collect sexual orientation and gender identity information from every patient.

Click here to read CAP’s full joint statement with The Fenway Institute, or for more information visit www.doaskdotell.org.

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For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, contact Tom Caiazza at  or 202.481.7141.