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Medical Leaders Urge Collection of Demographic Information as a Step Toward Ending Health Care Disparities

A report from the Commission to End Health Care Disparities shows ambulatory settings need to collect and use demographic information to ensure high quality care for all

For immediate release:
April 28, 2011

Chicago In anticipation of the annual conference of the Commission to End Health Care Disparities, which will be held April 29-30 in New Orleans, commission leaders urged that ambulatory clinics should routinely ask patients about their racial, ethnic and language background as a step toward ending health care disparities. This recommendation is based on a report released by the commission today.

"To ensure all patients are able to access and receive high quality care, basic demographic information needs to be collected so that we can better identify where disparities exist and consequently work more effectively to end these disparities," said American Medical Association Immediate Past-President and Co-Chair of the Commission J. James Rohack, M.D.

The Commission's report, entitled Collecting and Using Race, Ethnicity and Language Data in Ambulatory Settings, explains that ambulatory clinics are typically the best sites within the health care system to collect information about a patient's race and ethnicity. The report also proposes an initiative called "Two Clicks to Equity" to work with electronic record system vendors to ensure that demographic data is being collected reliably and can be displayed in useful ways.

"There is no reason why it should take more than two clicks of a mouse to see quality measures stratified by key demographics like race, ethnicity and language," said National Medical Association President and Co-Chair of the Commission Leonard Weather, M.D.  "The technology is there, we just need to make this a priority."

The Commission's recommendations are particularly timely in light of the recently released HHS Action Plan to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities, which calls on a variety of organizations and institutions to support better data collection. In addition, the 2010 National Healthcare Quality Report and National Healthcare Disparities Report issued by the Department of Health & Human Services' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), found that while there have been improvements in health care quality, disparities based on race and ethnicity, socioeconomic status and other factors persist at unacceptably high levels.

Learn more about the Commission's report.

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Shannon O'Brien
AMA Media Relations
(312) 464-4443

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