lecting data). Other reasons included “unnecessary” (37 percent), “no good/ reliable system for collection” (25 percent), and “data would be unreliable” (18 percent). Only two respondents felt that data collection was prohibited by law or external regulation. (Percentages add to more than 100 percent because respondents could choose more than one option.)

Those groups that did report collecting data on race or ethnicity did so mainly for internal purposes rather than for external reporting. Fifteen of the 21 groups collecting data on race or ethnicity said that they used the data for internal purposes. Ten of the 15 mentioned using the data for quality improvement or disease management purposes. Six of the 21 groups said that they shared data with federal, state, or local government agencies—primarily state or local health departments.

In most instances, the patient was the source of data on race or ethnicity. Seventeen of the 21 medical groups chose “patient self-identifies” in response to a question about who provides data. Caregivers or health care providers were much less frequently mentioned as the source of data. Data were collected most often at the first visit or new patient registration (15 out of 21 groups), but in eight groups the provider’s note in the medical record was identified as the point at which data were collected. (Again, groups had the option of choosing more than one answer.)


Like health plans, medical groups are less likely than hospitals to collect data on patients’ race and ethnicity. Those groups that do collect data do so primarily for internal quality improvement or disease management purposes rather than because of an external reporting requirement. Groups that do not collect data feel that it is either unnecessary or potentially troubling to patients, or that it cannot be done reliably.

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