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Ending Racial, Ethnic, and Cultural Disparities in American Health Care

by George C. Halvorson

There are significant racial, ethnic and cultural disparities today in American health care. Life expectancy differs between groups of people by up to a decade. Treatment patterns often differ significantly between groups of people. Bias, behavior and biology all play their part in those disparities. One care system has shown that when caregivers track care performance and track care outcomes by race and ethnicity and then take steps to systematically and consistently improve the care for each group where the data shows that care disparities exist, then those disparities can, in fact, be reduced or eliminated.

Kaiser Permanente took systematic steps to track what were initially significant differences in HIV care outcomes between African American and White patients, for example, and managed to improve care for both sets of patients to achieve the lowest HIV death rate in America for both sets of patients. Systematic, science based, patient focused care can make a difference.  

Disparities exist in our country — and they need to be addressed systematically or they will continue to exist. It is possible to go down that road. This book explains how that was done.