Issue Brief: Reducing Disparities in the Quality of Care for Racial and Ethnic Minorities

Your health care depends on who you are. Race and ethnicity continue to influence a patient’s chance of receiving many specific health care procedures and treatments. A thorough review of health quality data shows that racial and ethnic minorities continue to receive lower-quality care than Whites.



Blacks received worse care than Whites for about 40 percent of quality measures.

These differences persist even when insurance status and socioeconomic factors like education and income are taken into account. In its 2012 National Healthcare Disparities Report, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality suggests that disparities in quality of care are common. Identifying and acting to reduce disparities in care for racial and ethnic minorities has been a core goal of Aligning Forces for Quality since its inception. This issue brief explores key lessons on how communities can share data, encourage collaboration, and make patients and consumers part of improving quality for all.

What's Working

  • Reporting leads the way. In order to reduce disparities in care, organizations and regions must first understand where disparities exist, the scope of the disparities, and the root cause of these disparities.

  • Moving from data to action. The inherent structure of the Aligning Forces initiative is a major strength of its approach to disparities reduction: multi-stakeholder coalitions of consumers, providers, and payers are vital to reducing regional health and health care disparities.

  • Bring patients and communities to the table to help design programs to reduce disparities. A patient’s cultural background influences both their experience of care and their health behavior. Understanding each patient’s cultural identity is necessary for effective care.