Study: Lower-performing hospitals treat more minority, poor patients

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Hospitals with the lowest scores on certain quality and cost measures treat more than twice as many minority and poor patients as hospitals with the highest scores, according to a study reported today in Health Affairs. The study, by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health, compared quality and cost measures at roughly 3,200 hospitals with the proportion of minority and Medicaid patients the hospitals served. "As the United States embarks on efforts to improve hospital care using value-based purchasing principles, we will need to help hospitals improve quality and efficiency simultaneously and to monitor the results of their efforts, so that we do not inadvertently worsen disparities in care," the study concludes. Maulik Joshi, president of the Health Research & Educational Trust and senior vice president of research for the AHA, said the AHA "is committed to sharing with hospitals tools and strategies that can help eliminate disparities in care. As noted by today's study and others in Health Affairs, there are many community-based influences on health and health care. We need to address the many factors that impact community health, such as access to preventive and follow-up care, and work with all stakeholders to ensure improved care for patients and communities." The October issue of Health Affairs examined disparities in health and health care.

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