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Health Equity Corner

According to the National Institutes of Health, by 2030, 4 out of 10 Americans will belong to a racial or ethnic minority group. Members of racial and ethnic minoritized groups have higher rates of morbidity and mortality from chronic diseases, including cancer. Despite good faith efforts to deliver quality care, disparities exist in nearly every aspect of cancer care and have an important impact on patients’ experiences and clinical outcomes. Unconscious or implicit biases are only one of the drivers of disparate outcomes in health care. In order to effectively deliver care and improve health outcomes it is imperative that healthcare systems address the barriers that give rise to disparities in healthcare settings.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Equality recently published “Race, Ethnicity, and Language Data: Standardization for Health Care Quality Improvement,” which provided some excellent points that we hope will spearhead conversation. For example, inadequate cancer screening and testing, as well as worse care or worse outcomes have been documented for patients self-reporting as “other” or “unknown” race/ethnicity. More data are needed to understand the barriers affecting the provider-patient relationship, and their impact on health outcomes in oncology. However, gathering the relevant demographic data continues to be a struggle across Michigan and throughout the US.

MOQC’s Achieve Equity Committee has been working with the MOQC team to increase team knowledge about disparities, equity, and social determinants of health. An emphasis at the Fall 2021 Regional Meetings is how practices can address barriers to collecting race, ethnicity, and language of care.  The regional meetings were a great opportunity to review current methods of patient demographic data collection within each region’s practices. A goal of this project will be to propose interventions that assist MOQC practices in standardizing demographic information collection from every patient.