Ethnic and economic minorities do not always receive the same quality of care as the rest of the population and frequently miss opportunities for preventative care, a new study has found. The study, conducted by HHS' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, is the first annual federal report to address ongoing disparities in healthcare delivery, according to the agency. The report concluded that despite overall progress in the healthcare industry, access and quality problems continue to disproportionately affect minorities. While many factors are at work in creating quality disparities, blacks have a 30% higher cancer death rate than whites, the study said, and people with lower incomes are less likely to receive routine care but more likely to receive acute care. For instance, 17% of the poor make emergency room visits while only 10% of people with high incomes seek urgent care in the hospital. Click here to view the National Healthcare Quality Report.
Separately, the National Quality Forum announced today that it plans to develop standards for assessing the quality of care in ambulatory settings through a four-year project funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Doctors' offices and other freestanding outpatient facilities are where most people receive care, the NQF said, making it important to develop a standard way to measure their performance. The NQF is a not-for-profit standard setting organization created in 1999. A $300,000 grant from Robert Wood Johnson will fund the project, which will research and quantify quality deficiencies stemming from the underuse, overuse or misuse of services, the NQF said in a statement. -- by Jeff Tieman