Policies To Reduce Health Care Disparities

Policies To Reduce Health Care Disparities Wednesday, September 25, 2013

According to AHRQ’s 2012 National Healthcare Disparities Report, “differences in access to care, social determinants, provider biases, poor provider–patient communication, and poor health literacy” are among the factors that contribute to disparities in care received by racial and ethnic minorities and disadvantaged populations. For example, recent data indicate that poor and low-income people received worse care than high-income people for about 60 percent of quality measures.

The featured Innovations describe three programs that implemented policies to help reduce health care disparities and ensure that vulnerable populations receive equitable health care. The programs include one that subsidized the costs of electronic health record implementation for primary care practices in underserved areas and another in which a Medicaid plan collected and verified patient race, ethnicity, and language data to help identify and address disparities; as well as State legislation in California requiring that cultural competency curricula be included in continuing medical education.

The featured QualityTools include the 2012 National Healthcare Disparities Report, which identifies and tracks the ways that some populations receive poor or worse care than others; a toolkit to help physicians and health care teams redesign office practices to provide the highest quality care possible to patients with limited English skills; and a guide to help hospital leaders identify and address disparities in order to achieve equitable care for patients.

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