Promising Practices for

Addressing Disparities


ABOUT addressing disparities

Although the quality of health care is poor for many Americans, some patients of specific racial and ethnic groups continue to experience lower-quality health care than white patients. For patients who speak a language other than English, communicating in a language they understand is critical for receiving safe, high-quality care. Measuring how care is delivered to different patient populations can help address racial and ethnic disparities in health care by targeting efforts to close the gaps in care. Health care systems need better tools to address racial and ethnic disparities in health care—such as programs that effectively use data to target disparities and improve language access.

Quick Facts

  •  With few exceptions, all racial and ethnic minorities experience higher rates of illness and death than nonminorities.
  • Minorities are less likely to be given appropriate cardiac medications or undergo bypass surgery.
  • Collecting a patient’s preferred language information at registration enhances an organization’s ability to examine and improve its processes to ensure equitable care is provided to all patients.

More from Aligning Forces for Quality (AF4Q)

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Latest: Disparities


Care Managers for Perinatal Depression

May 2, 2013

Lancaster General Health added depression care managers to the team of perinatal providers in order to ensure attention is paid to this disorder.


Remote Video Interpreting Services

May 2, 2013

Using two-way video, medical interpreters at four of Sutter Health’s campuses in San Francisco have been able to double the size of their caseloads, and now serve 8 to 12 patients a day.

EHR “Alerts” Increase Use of Interpreters

February 26, 2013

St. Mary's hospital used its EHR system to increase the use of qualified interpreter services during admission from 44 percent to 73 percent over seven months, and during discharge from 26 percent to 60 percent.

Interpreters to Ensure Patients Receive Instructions in Their Native Language

February 26, 2013

Oregon Health and Science University saw a 65 percent improvement in ensuring patients with limited English proficiency have an interpreter during admission and discharge.

iPod Touch, Not Beeper, Better Dispatches Interpreters

February 6, 2013

St. Elizabeth's Medical Center used iPod touches to streamline interpreter service requests and decreased the response time for services by more than 50 percent.

Telephone Access to Interpreters Saves Time

February 6, 2013

St. Elizabeth’s created a portable telephonic interpretation system known as the Interpreter Phone on a Pole, or IPOP.

Modifying the Admission Process to Improve the Collection and Accuracy of REL Data Collection

September 29, 2010

Methodist North Hospital implemented changes in the hospital electronic medical record (EMR) and patient in-take process to improve the collection and accuracy of REL data collection.

Educating and Motivating the Community to Reduce Disparities

September 29, 2010

Methodist North Hospital organized an event with community leaders to engage them in efforts to reduce disparities in care.

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