BILH Launches Patient Demographic Initiative to Advance Health Equity

October 04, 2021

Organization Will Consistently Capture Patient Demographic Data, Including Race, Ethnicity and Language, To Ensure Equitable, Culturally Competent Care

Cambridge, MA – As part of its ongoing commitment to foster an organizational culture that embraces diversity, equity and inclusion, Beth Israel Lahey Health (BILH) has launched a new initiative to more consistently request patient diversity demographics, including gender, race, ethnicity, and language. These data are foundational to understanding and addressing health disparities and foster equitable, culturally competent care.

“The launch of this initiative is an important milestone in our system-wide efforts to analyze health disparities and establish clinical and non-clinical interventions to eradicate differences in outcomes,” said Richard Nesto, MD, Beth Israel Lahey Health’s chief medical officer. “As we enhance our understanding of health disparities and root causes, we will work across the system and in with the communities we serve to address social determinants of health and optimize healthcare.”

Health disparities are differences across populations in the presence of disease, access to health care, use of health care services, and health outcomes. In an effort to seek out and capture data that will lend to addressing these disparities, a multidisciplinary team of representatives from across BILH — including patient access services, information services, nursing, social work, community benefits and community relations teams — along with patient representatives, researched best practices and processes and established a standard set of data for BILH to capture in its electronic health record (EHR) systems.

More consistently capturing patient diversity demographic information will also allow BILH to enhance its research efforts, inform and improve the quality of care, and ensure every patient feels respected. As part of this effort, all patients will be asked to share information about their race; ethnicity; language; sexual orientation; gender identity; sex assigned at birth; pronouns, as well as disability and accommodation requirements. Patients will be encouraged to provide this information, but it is not required.

“It is important that we provide opportunities for our patients to share more information about their backgrounds so that we foster a more inclusive, equitable, and patient-centered environment,” said Juan Fernando Lopera, Beth Israel Lahey Health’s chief diversity, equity & inclusion officer. “This patient-provided data will help us to better address, understand and describe our patients and our communities, identify and track our progress in addressing health disparities, and develop culturally competent interventions to close gaps in health outcomes.”

About Beth Israel Lahey Health

Beth Israel Lahey Health is a health care system that brings together academic medical centers and teaching hospitals, community and specialty hospitals, more than 4,700 physicians and 39,000 employees in a shared mission to expand access to great care and advance the science and practice of medicine through groundbreaking research and education.

Director, Media Relations

Sarah Finlaw

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