Eliminating health care disparities goal of draft standards

MHA Friday Report, Sept. 2, 2011

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced new draft standards to improve the monitoring of health data by race, ethnicity, sex, primary language, and disability status, and has begun planning for the collection of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) health data. 
Both efforts aim to help researchers, policy makers, health providers and advocates to identify and address health disparities afflicting these communities.
Under the plan, HHS will integrate questions on sexual orientation into national data collection efforts by 2013 and begin a process to collect information on gender identity.  This plan includes the testing of questions on sexual orientation to potentially be incorporated into the National Health Interview Survey.  The department also intends to convene a series of research roundtables with national experts to determine the best way to help the department collect data specific to gender identity. 
The proposed standards for collection and reporting of data on race, ethnicity, sex, primary language and disability status in population health surveys are intended to help federal agencies refine their population health surveys in ways that will help researchers better understand health disparities and zero in on effective strategies for eliminating them.
Under Section 4302 of the Affordable Care Act, the Secretary is required to ensure that any federally conducted or supported health care or public health program, activity or survey collects and reports data, to the extent practicable, on race, ethnicity, sex, primary language and disability status, as well as other demographic data on health disparities as deemed appropriate by the Secretary.
For more information on improving data collection to reduce health disparities visit http://www.healthcare.gov/news/factsheets/disparities06292011a.html.
For more information on improving data collection within the LGBT community visit http://www.healthcare.gov/news/factsheets/lgbt06292011a.html.
Information about listening sessions with community stakeholders is available at www.minorityhealth.hhs.gov/section4302.
Meanwhile, five national health care groups have issued a "call to action" to eliminate disparities in care. The Association of American Medical Colleges, American College of Healthcare Executives, American Hospital Association, Catholic Health Association of the United States and National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems have created a new Web site, www.equityofcare.org, through which they will share resources best practices and national collaborative efforts to eliminate disparities.  The site was created to help hospitals, health systems, clinicians and staff ensure that each patient's individual needs are met with the same high quality of care.