Kaiser Permanente is nationally recognized for its innovation and groundbreaking initiatives in health care. Over the years, we have continuously assessed the needs of our membership and public community, and proactively designed programs and solutions to meet the new challenges. Race, Ethnicity, and Language Data Collection underscores our commitment toward the elimination of health disparities and inequities for racial, ethnic, and linguistic groups.
With the advocacy and leadership of our National Diversity Council, the Member Demographic Data Collection Initiative on Race, Ethnicity, and Language preference information became an organizational policy in 2004.
The objectives of the policy extend beyond collecting information for compliance reasons; it is intended to inform patient-centered care, culturally and linguistically competent care and services, and the elimination of health and health care disparities/inequities. Timely, valid, and representative data collection is essential to the provision of quality and equitable care.
As our commitment to continuous quality improvement, Kaiser Permanente National Diversity recommended several updates and modifications for KP HealthConnect, our electronic medical/health record system. These accepted recommendations are based on research and collaborative input from various stakeholders and constituents to improve Race, Ethnicity, and Language data collection.
During the initial phase of data collection, we utilized an approach that was common throughout the industry, which was to ask for the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) federal ‘Race’ and ‘Ethnicity’* categories. We addressed the need to identify diverse subpopulations by also including a limited number of detailed groups.
At that juncture, our technical systems were not designed to house granular information separately on subpopulation groups, therefore, granular descriptions were coupled to the OMB federal standards to accommodate compliance and reporting needs.
During initial implementation, important concerns were raised, which included the following:
The need for more granular categories for ethnicity
The feedback that Hispanic/Latino patients felt uncomfortable selecting ‘Race’ categories that they may not identify with
The issue of coupling of federal standards to granular information did not allow for self-identification
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