For more than 20 years, research has shown that racial and ethnic minorities consistently receive lower-quality health care and have worse health outcomes than Whites, even when demographic and socioeconomic factors are taken into account.
In a landmark 2002 report titled Unequal Treatment: Understanding Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care, the Institute of Medicine recommended collecting data on patients’ race, ethnicity and preferred language as one strategy to eliminate disparities.
Such data helps characterize patient populations, allowing providers to offer appropriate preventive care. Some hospitals, doctors’ offices and health plans already track this information, but the process is neither consistent nor objective.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) expands and standardizes data collection about race, ethnicity and language.
This Health Policy Snapshot, published online in July 2011, examines how the collection of data on race, ethnicity and language can improve quality of care.
Read more from RWJF's Health Policy Snapshot series.