WNPR

Health Care By The Numbers: Gathering Data On Racial Disparities

Feb 7, 2018

Health care advocates say Connecticut needs to do a better job examining just how a person’s race can affect their health and their recovery from disease.

The state currently gathers enough numbers to know that whether you are black, Latino, or white can vastly affect your expectations for a healthy life in Connecticut.

“Consider for example that white infants in Connecticut have among the lowest mortality rates in the country, while Hispanic infants in Connecticut have among the highest,” said Karen Siegel from Connecticut Voices for Children.

But Siegel cautions that big picture data is about as good as it gets right now.

“If all we see is aggregate data, we miss the needs of underserved populations," she explained to reporters at a press conference this week. "When we can’t track disparities among our racial and ethnic groups, we can’t evaluate the success of efforts to reach specific populations.”

Connecticut Voices for Children is now partnering with another advocacy group, Health Equity Solutions, on proposed legislation.

The bill would seeks standardized guidelines across state agencies for collecting data related to race and ethnicity in health care outcomes. It would provide better training for health care professionals who actually collect the data. It would make the data easily shareable. And it would demand a much more granular level of information, so that outcomes for smaller ethnic groups can be easily tracked.

Tekisha Everette of Health Equity Solutions said other states including Massachusetts and California have similar efforts in place, “but frankly we firmly believe Connecticut can become the leading state in advancing health equity by improving our data collection.”

While it’s certainly a matter of social justice, its backers say this effort is also aimed at saving money on costly disease management, and getting more of the state’s population healthy and contributing to the economy.