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New Report Identifies Health Disparities and Reduction Strategies
Date:2/11/2008

HealthPartners first Minnesota health care organization to measure and reduce health disparities among patients and members

BLOOMINGTON, Minn., Feb. 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- HealthPartners today released a report providing evidence of health disparities between patients of different racial/ethnic backgrounds receiving certain types of care in its system, examples of care where minimal disparities exist and examples of improvements it is making to reduce health disparities. A copy of the report is available at http://www.healthpartners.com/files/40901.pdf.

"At HealthPartners we want all of our patients to get the best care," said Beth Averbeck, M.D., HealthPartners Associate Medical Director for Health Improvement. "We serve diverse patient populations across our system so we developed a strong foundation to identify and reduce health care disparities to make sure that our patients are getting the care they need. Only a handful of organizations across the country have taken this work to the level we have, so we're pleased to be able share what we've learned."

The report, Strategies to Identify and Reduce Health Disparities 2007, revealed health disparities between racial groups on the percentage of patients who received cancer and other screenings. For example, only 70% of Native American patients and 76% of African American patients who, according to preventive service guidelines, were due to have a mammogram received the service. This compared to 89% for white patients.

HealthPartners tested changes to help reduce this disparity including:

-- Offering patients requiring a mammogram the ability to have the test within one hour to increase the likelihood they will choose to have the test.

-- Testing the use of customized patient education materials written in the patient's preferred language that include information on the benefits and risks of specific screening tests, what to expect with the test and why the test is important for the patient.

As a result, more than 50% of women overdue for a mammogram accepted the offer for same-day service and HealthPartners is implementing the service at all of its locations with onsite mammography.

The report also identified minimal disparities between racial groups receiving services such as cholesterol screening, lead testing and services provided during a child and teen check-up.

Identifying Disparities

HealthPartners began collecting race/ethnicity and language preference data from patients and members on a voluntary basis in 2004. Today, the organization has collected this information for more than 425,000 patients and health plan members. In 2006, HealthPartners began using race and ethnicity data to monitor quality results so it could identify health disparities and work on strategies to reduce them.

About HealthPartners

Founded in 1957, the HealthPartners (http://www.healthpartners.com) family of health care companies serves more than one million medical and dental health plan members nationwide and is the largest consumer-governed, nonprofit health care organization in the nation, providing care, coverage, research and education to improve the health of members, patients and the community. HealthPartners is rated one of the best plans in the nation by U.S. News and World Report in association with The National Committee for Quality Assurance. The HealthPartners family of health plans includes HealthPartners, Inc, Group Health Plan, Inc., HealthPartners Insurance Company, and HealthPartners Administrators, Inc.


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