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Research Findings and Recommendations

Prompted by a request from Congress, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) performed an assessment on the differences in the kinds and quality of health care received by United States racial and ethnic minorities and non minorities. The IOM was charged with:

  • Assessing the extent of racial and ethnic differences in health care that are not otherwise attributable to known factors such as access to care
  • Evaluating potential sources of racial and ethnic disparities in health care
  • Providing recommendations regarding interventions to eliminate health care disparities.

They concluded that a comprehensive, multi-level strategy is needed to eliminate these disparities. Broad sectors - including health care providers, their patients, payers, health plan purchasers, and society at large - should be made aware of the health care gap between racial and ethnic groups in the United States. View a summary the IOM findings and recommendations (PDF) or the complete IOM report.

The AMA has policies and activities which support a number of the IOM's recommendations, specifically those which seek to:

Increase awareness of racial and ethnic disparities in health care among the general public, key stakeholders, and health care providers

Avoid fragmentation of health plans along socioeconomic status lines and strengthen the stability of patient-provider relationships in publicly funded health plans

Increase the proportion of underrepresented US racial and ethnic minorities among health professionals

Apply the same managed care protections to publicly funded HMO enrollees that apply to private HMO enrollees

Promote the consistency and equity of care through the use of evidence-based practice guidelines, enhance patient-provider communication and trust, and structure payment systems to ensure an adequate supply of services to minority patients

Support the use of interpretation services where community need exists

Support the use of community health workers and implement multidisciplinary treatment and preventive care teams

Implement patient education programs to increase patients' knowledge of how to best access care and participate in treatment decisions and integrate cross-cultural education into the training of all current and future health professionals

Collect data on health care access and utilization by patients' race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status, report racial and ethnic data using OMB standards, and monitor the progress toward the elimination of health care disparities

Conduct research to identify sources of racial and ethnic disparities, on barriers to eliminating disparities, and to assess promising intervention strategies to eliminate disparities