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Here’s How We Reduce Health Disparities With Better Data


Published Oct 19, 2022 • by AHIP

Every American deserves access to affordable, high-quality care and health coverage -- regardless of the individual qualities that make us who we are, like our race, color, gender, disability, or health status. Ending discrimination and systemic racism in health care is essential for an equitable health care system where everyone has an equal opportunity to thrive and achieve their best health – and it will take everyone working together to succeed.

We need to have accurate data to know where disparities exist, how social drivers like access to safe housing impact the ability to live a healthy life, and how culturally appropriate solutions can promote more equitable access to care. Accurate and actionable data is foundational in addressing health equity. It will allow us to the measure the effectiveness of interventions and continuously improve our programs to more successfully address inequities.

The health care system still faces challenges in getting accurate and comprehensive data on the people we serve. Current data standards still lead to inaccurate data and large amounts of “other” or “unknown” responses which hinder efforts to better understand populations served and act on the disparities that different populations experience. Health care partners collect different types of data, which makes it harder to effectively share information across care teams.

AHIP brought together a diverse group of stakeholders from 2020 – 2022 to improve not only the data elements we collect, but also how we frame the questions to reflect how people identify in culturally respectful ways. Through this process, we developed improved data standards for race, ethnicity, language preference, sexual orientation, gender, disability status, veteran status, and spiritual beliefs.

We hope that making this work publicly available will start a dialogue and that others in the health care system will join us in our efforts to improve the data standards so that we can more easily share and analyze data and work together on common health equity goals. With improved data, great strides can be made in reducing disparities and improving outcomes. AHIP stands ready to engage collaboratively with policymakers and other health care stakeholders to make meaningful improvements in health equity, which starts with having accurate and actionable data on the people we all collectively serve.

Read our letter to the Administration that talks about this work and our recommended demographic data standards.