Despite efforts to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in health care, gaps remain. In order to better analyze the data, develop targeted interventions and ultimately eliminate disparities, health care organizations need to collect standard and more detailed information about patients’ race, ethnicity and English-language proficiency. In addition, standardization will allow for stratifying quality performance measures, combining data from different sources and comparing data across systems.

A 2009 report released by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), Race, Ethnicity, and Language Data: Standardization for Health Care Quality Improvement, recommends that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) develop nationally standardized lists for granular ethnicity categories and spoken and written languages.