Health care organizations in California, Illinois, Indiana and Pennsylvania were awarded $1.6 million to support their efforts to eliminate racial and ethnic health care disparities in communities across the United States. The funding provided by Finding Answers: Disparities Research for Change expands the program’s grant portfolio to include projects evaluating interventions in a variety of different settings.
Each of the four organizations will receive up to $400,000 to evaluate the impact of programs aimed at closing racial and ethnic gaps in care, with a particular focus on cardiovascular disease, depression and diabetes. These are conditions where evidence of racial and ethnic disparities in the quality of care is strong and the recommended standards of care are clear.
“The new federal health care law provides dramatic expansions in access to care, but we need to ensure that care is high-quality for every patient, every time they see a provider,” said Marshall H. Chin, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Finding Answers program. “There are significant gaps between the health care quality people should receive and the care they actually receive.”
Research confirms that certain racial and ethnic groups in the United States receive lower-quality health care and most efforts designed to address this disparity have led to only limited improvements. Without better knowledge about practical steps to reduce disparities, health care organizations are often unable to make the necessary progress to close these gaps effectively.
The four new grantees will test their intervention in at least three different settings that may vary by location, patient demographics, or administrative structure. By doing this, they hope to identify successful approaches to reducing racial and ethnic disparities that have potential to be replicated and sustained in communities throughout the United States. The grant recipients are:
- University of Illinois at Chicago (Chicago, Ill.)
- WellPoint, Inc. (Indianapolis, Ind.)
- Sutter Health (San Francisco, Calif.)
- Lancaster General Health (Lancaster, Penn.)
“It is important to learn what works so that all health care providers can deliver equitable care,” said John R. Lumpkin, M.D., M.P.H., senior vice president and director of the Health Care Group at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “Our health care system can and should provide high-quality, equitable care to everyone.”
During this fourth round of funding, a total of 60 project proposals were received from health care leaders around the country—including hospitals, community health centers and universities. These projects each sought to evaluate a wide range of interventions, including patient-directed financial incentives, automated reminder systems for doctors and community partnerships. They represent a snapshot of current efforts around the country that are working to reduce racial and ethnic disparities.
The work of these four new grantees and 28 other organizations that have received funding since 2006 will help Finding Answers and RWJF understand what works—and what does not work—to improve health care for minority patients. At the end of their projects, grantees will provide detailed information on whether the intervention improved health outcomes, how the intervention was implemented, and what the start-up and maintenance costs were. Finding Answers will evaluate those results and then inform health care stakeholders—doctors, nurses, hospitals and health plans—about promising approaches that show the ability to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in health care.
Finding Answers: Disparities Research for Change, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation at the University of Chicago, awards and manages research grants totaling $8 million to health care organizations implementing interventions aimed at reducing disparities. The funds are used to evaluate the interventions and their potential for real-world implementation. This initiative encourages health plans, hospitals, and community clinics to focus on racial and ethnic disparities as a priority in their quality improvement agendas.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change. For more than 35 years, the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime.