Using Data to Reduce Disparities and Improve Quality

Unless specifically measured, racial and ethnic disparities in health care can go unnoticed by health care organizations, even as these organizations seek to improve care. Stratifying quality data by patient race, ethnicity, and language is an important tool for uncovering and responding to health care disparities. Using race, ethnicity, and language data strategically allows health care organizations to:

  • Discover and prioritize differences in care, outcomes, and/or experience across patient groups;
  • Plan equity-focused quality improvement efforts and measure their impact; and
  • Tell (and revise) the story of how patients are experiencing health care.

This brief recommends strategies that health care organizations can use to effectively organize and interpret race, ethnicity, and language data to improve equity for their patients. It is intended for health care organizations that already have quality data stratified by race, ethnicity, and language. This document does not discuss collecting or stratifying data, as there are other resources available elsewhere. Organizations who are engaged in quality improvement efforts can use data-driven strategies to identify and reduce disparities in their care delivery.