Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Hospitals find success in slashing health disparities

Cultural competency training is among the efforts that boost care quality for minority patients.

According to the 2010 National Healthcare Disparities Report, only 20 percent of health care disparities have been reduced. However, a number of hospitals and health systems have implemented different methods to narrow the gap, according to a report from a coalition of health care organizations. For example, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital implemented a four-hour training program for health professionals to help address cultural, language, and literacy needs of their Hispanic patients.

Emilio Carrillo, vice president for community health at NewYork-Presbyterian, said "The cultural competency training provides background information in terms of the various ethnicities and religions and groups that we see predominantly." The hospital also employed bilingual patient navigators and established seven patient-centered medical homes. As a result, the article notes that there was nearly a 10 percent drop in emergency department visits. The report cites case studies from eight other organizations working to reduce health disparities, including Baylor Health Cary System in Dallas, TX, University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, MS, and Adventist Health Care in Rockville, MD. The article notes that more than three-quarters of hospitals collect data on patients' race and other demographic factors, such as language and disability. "It's important to recognize that collecting data on race, ethnicity, language, disability, and gender is foundational to addressing disparities and to doing interventions to reduce them," said Romana Hasnain-Wynia, research associate professor at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine Institute for Healthcare Studies in Chicago.

Richard de Filippi, chair of the American Hospital Association's Equity of Care Committee, emphasized that hospitals focused on data collection, cultural competency training, including minorities in leadership positions, and patient-centered care inevitably will lower health care disparities (O'Reilly, 03/16).

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