Socioeconomic and racial/ethnic disparities in health care quality have
been extensively documented. Recently, the elimination of disparities in health
care has become the focus of a national initiative. Yet, there is little effort
to monitor and address disparities in health care through organizational quality
improvement. After reviewing literature on disparities in health care, we
discuss the limitations in existing quality assessment for identifying and
addressing these disparities. We propose 5 principles to address these disparities
through modifications in quality performance measures: disparities represent
a significant quality problem; current data collection efforts are inadequate
to identify and address disparities; clinical performance measures should
be stratified by race/ethnicity and socioeconomic position for public reporting;
population-wide monitoring should incorporate adjustment for race/ethnicity
and socioeconomic position; and strategies to adjust payment for race/ethnicity
and socioeconomic position should be considered to reflect the known effects
of both on morbidity.
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