Where Should You Start Reducing Disparities?

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

Have trouble viewing this video? Read the transcript.

Learning Objectives: At the end of this activity, you will be able to:
  • Explain why organizations shouldn’t start their disparities work with interventions.
  • Discuss the value of quality data in addressing disparities.
  • Identify two barriers to collecting data on race, ethnicity, and language of patients.

Description: Many health systems want to provide high-quality care to all groups of people, regardless of race, ethnicity, and English language proficiency. But where should they start? In this video short, Aswita Tan-McGrory, MBA, MSPH, Deputy Director of Massachusetts General Hospital’s Disparities Solutions Center, cautions organizations against starting new programs without data. Without data, how will you know a change is an improvement? Instead, the first step is collecting quality data on race, ethnicity, and language (REAL data). “It’s a multi-tier, multi-department effort,” she says — but it’s the only way to know whether you’re improving.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Do you agree that interventions are “sexy”? Why might organizations want to focus their energy on programmatic changes more than on collecting data?
  2. Have you ever seen an improvement effort skip data collection to go straight to the interventions? Did it work? Why or why not?
  3. How can data help you build a case for action, especially building a case with leadership? 
  4. What ideas do you have to help registrars and others overcome their discomfort with asking patients about race, ethnicity, and language preference? Have you seen this process before?
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