How can improving care for minorities improve health for all?

Aswita Tan-McGrory, MBA, MSPH; Deputy Director, Disparities Solutions Center at Massachusetts General Hospital

For example, we did a diabetes management program at MGH. It was tailored for Spanish-speaking patients, and the coach was bilingual and bicultural. He provided services that were tailored for the population had been shown to have the biggest disparities in diabetes management, but other patients could join the program as well. So that when we looked at the data, not only did the hemoglobin A1C results improve for Spanish-speaking patients, but it also improved for all patients overall. So, targeted, culturally competent programs can improve care for everyone else. If you were only focusing on English-speaking patients, then you would miss the Spanish-speaking patients. Sometimes what happens then is the disparities widen — the care for the English-speaking patients improves but the care for the Spanish speaking patients either remains the same or actually worsens.