Kaiser Permanente is an inaugural recipient of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Health Equity Award, which recognized the organization’s commitment to reducing and eliminating disparities in healthcare quality and access.
As the foundation upon which to build its ability to uncover and address disparities, Kaiser has made a concerted multi-year effort to improve the collection of Race, Ethnicity, and Language (REAL) data from its patients. As a result, race and ethnicity data capture in Kaiser’s electronic health records has increased from 32% of patients in 2009 to 88% in 2017.
The capture of REAL data has allowed Kaiser to stratify quality and outcomes measures by patient demographics and target improvements in those areas where disparities are uncovered.
As an example, Kaiser’s Hypertension Program Improvement Process has significantly reduced disparities in blood pressure control rates across racial and ethnic groups, including among African-American Medicare members ages 18 to 85. From 2009 to 2017, the percentage of African American Medicare patients with controlled hypertension increased from 75.3% to 89.6%; and the African-American–White disparity in hypertension control rates was reduced by 58%—from a high of 5.3 percentage points to 2.2 points. These achievements have saved many lives and improved the quality of life for thousands of patients.
Key elements of the organization’s approach included collecting and stratifying data to identify, prioritize health outcome disparities, upgrading clinical practice guidelines, and expanding educational resources available to Kaiser Permanente members. Strong community partnerships played an important role in bringing care directly to communities in need, including offering blood pressure checks at beauty salons and barbershops.
If you have questions, please contact Berny Gould, MNA, RN, CPHQ, Senior Director, National Quality Governance, National Quality Governance & Information Connection, Kaiser Permanente at Berny.Gould@kp.org.