Funder: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Author: Rachel DeMeester, Finding Answers: Disparities Research for Change and Roopa Mahadevan, Center for Health Care Strategies

April 2014 | Brief

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 the story of how patients are experiencing health care.

This brief, a product of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Aligning Forces for Quality initiative, recommends strategies that health care organizations can use to organize and interpret race, ethnicity, and language data to reduce disparities and improve health outcomes for patients. It can guide health care organizations that already have quality data stratified by race, ethnicity, and language. Organizations that are engaged in quality improvement efforts can use data-driven strategies to identify and reduce disparities in their care delivery.