Words Matter: Strategies to Reduce Bias in Electronic Health Records

Armelle Casau, Mary Catherine Beach
Implementation Tool
October 2022


A provider tool that promotes person-centered and equitable care by recognizing and avoiding bias in electronic health record (EHR) notes.


This tool offers five strategies for all types of health care providers to write EHR notes that are more positive and humanizing, as opposed to biased and stigmatizing. The tool points to research showing how biased and stigmatizing language in EHRs can contribute to health disparities and lower quality health care treatment planning.

About this Tool

The tool highlights how bias in EHR notes can be done subconsciously and is often overlooked due to implicit biases, yet can contribute to negative provider perceptions of patients and problematic treatment planning. The tool offers practical strategies for providers to more mindfully avoid bias in their notetaking. Many examples of notetaking language are provided, including ways to avoid language that conveys skepticism of patients by instead providing more neutral language alternatives.


Because biased and stigmatizing language in EHRs can perpetuate health disparities and break trust between patients and providers, providers can use this tool to make more conscious efforts to eliminate biased and stigmatizing language in their EHR notes.

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