Do you collect REAL data?
Jarret Patton MD
Collecting REAL data is essential to health equity.
This week many healthcare systems are celebrating national health equity week with education and prominent speakers. These systems are on the road to health equity. Some have gone far down the road while others are just beginning. One of the most important strategies a healthcare system could do is assess their system for evidence of health disparities.
One of the principal steps in this quest is the usage of REAL (race, ethnicity, and language) data. These are basic demographics that can be collected at patient registration across the care continuum. Some systems have expanded REAL data collection to include veteran status, sexual preference or sexual identity as well. The more data you can collect on your patient population, one can determine whether differences in care exist.
Once routine REAL data collection has been collected for a time, you are ready to evaluate the data. This does not have to be separate from evaluations that are done in the quality and safety departments. Simply stratify the data by the REAL categories and evaluate for differences in outcomes.
Finally, don’t be surprised by your results. Commonly administrators feel that the care provided is equal to all. However, most institutions that look for health disparities find them. Remember, you are on a journey towards health equity. First, you must discover if they exist. Once in existence, you can employ strategies to mitigate them. Stays tuned for more information or feel free to contact us. Good luck and continue on the journey.