Bolstering Electronic Health Records at Four Community Health Centers in Chicago with Race, Ethnicity and Language Data

From September 2005 to September 2007, the Health Research and Educational Trust partnered with the Alliance of Chicago Community Health Services and the American Medical Association to collect and integrate information on patients' race/ethnicity, primary language and socioeconomic status into an electronic health record system, and to link that information with clinical performance measures.

The goal was to enable the alliance's four community health centers to better target efforts to improve health care quality and to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in care.

Key Results

The project team reported the following results to RWJF as well as in a draft journal article:

  • The project team standardized the recording of information on patients' race/ethnicity, primary language and socioeconomic status, and trained staff at four community health centers to collect that information while registering patients.
  • The project team developed an "interface engine" to transfer demographic information on patients from the health centers and their respective practice management systems to a central electronic health record system, which contained the clinical performance measures.
  • The community health centers began tracking their performance in providing care for asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure and HIV, as well as preventive services, by race/ethnicity and insurance status, individually and across the centers.