Digital health systems—let’s talk about sex (and gender)




Courtney, Karen L.

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Healthcare Management Forum


Historically, within digital health information systems, sex and gender have been conflated as a single concept and often have been limited to a binary answer. This has led to inappropriate care, erosion of client trust and avoidance of the healthcare system. Healthcare leaders can improve care for all clients with technical and clinical information practice initiatives. While procurement processes could require digital health systems that utilize modern gender, sex and sexual orientation (GSSO) terminology, for most health leaders, technical initiatives will focus on modernizing existing systems to the maximum extent possible. Terminology updates may not be immediately visible to clients, but providing the correct information to clinicians will support respectful client encounters. Simultaneously, clinical information practice initiatives can directly affect clinical encounters. Change management strategies need to include all levels of employees and redesign tools and workflows to support modernized information handling practices.


The author gratefully acknowledges the ongoing work of the University of Victoria Gender, Sex, and Sexual Orientation Research Group, and the Canada Health Infoway Sex and Gender Working Group, which have influenced this article.


ethics, sex, gender, digital health systems, system change


Courtney, K. L. (2022). Digital health systems—let’s talk about sex (and gender). Healthcare Management Forum, 35(6), 370–373.