Hospitals' methods for collecting information on patients' race, ethnicity and primary language vary widely, especially for non-English-speaking patients, but valid data in such areas is essential for addressing disparities in care, according to a new report supported by the Commonwealth Fund.
To ensure accurate data collection, hospitals should obtain the information when a patient is admitted or registered and standardize who provides it -- caretakers are more likely than hospital staff to provide accurate information, the report said.
Hospitals also should standardize the racial and ethnic categories used or use categories already defined by the Office of Management and Budget. The report also recommended that data be stored in a standard format compatible across hospitals and health systems and that the format allow data to be exported, imported and merged into clinical data files.
Hospitals in the 22 states with a mandate to collect race and ethnicity data were more likely to do so than hospitals in the 28 states with no such mandate, and teaching and urban hospitals also were more likely to collect the data, the report said.