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Click here to subscribe to HRET Resources RSS feed Improving Health Equity Through Data Collection AND Use: A Guide for Hospital Leaders

- March 01, 2011

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Improving Health Equity Through Data Collection AND Use: A Guide for Hospital Leaders

Racial and socioeconomic inequity persists in health care quality. An exploratory interview with three hospitals substantiated by a review of the literature reveals that hospitals are collecting race, ethnicity, and primary language data about their patients. Leading hospitals are now moving beyond data collection to analyzing and using the data to develop targeted interventions for improving access to care for underserved populations. All hospitals are encouraged to follow their lead and, in an era of greater emphasis on community health improvement, devote the necessary resources and infrastructure to use their data in efforts to overcome disparities in care.

The exploratory interviews did identify key strategies that hospitals have adopted to streamline the data collection process:

Key Strategies for Collecting Patient Race, Ethnicity, and Language Data

  1. Engage senior leadership
  2. Define goals for data collection
  3. Combine disparities data collection with existing reporting requirements
  4. Track and report progress on an organization-wide basis
  5. Build data collection into quality improvement initiatives
  6. Utilize national, regional, and state resources available
  7. Review, revise, and refine process and categories constantly

A review of literature highlighted several approaches for using the patient data collected by hospitals:

Leading Practices for Using Patient Race, Ethnicity, and Language Data

  1. Use an equity scorecard or dashboard to report organizational performance
  2. Inform and customize the language translation services you provide
  3. Review performance indicators such as length of stay, admissions, and avoidable readmissions
  4. Review process of care measures
  5. Review outcomes of care
  6. Analyze provision of certain preventive care

To meet the needs of their diverse populations, hospitals and health systems will need to bridge the gap between collecting meaningful patient data and reviewing the data to identify inequities in health care provision and utilization, and to implement simple yet effective interventions to improve care for patients.

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