To truly advance its equity goals, Massachusetts must take a leadership role in collecting and analyzing racial and ethnic health disparities, a new Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation report suggests. The report underlines how Massachusetts must improve data collection and reporting requirements across health agencies to ensure inequities are identified and addressed more holistically.
- Release an annual state health equity report. The Center for Health Information and Analysis (CHIA), working with the Department of Public Health (DPH), MassHealth, the Health Policy Council (HPC), and Massachusetts Health Quality Partners (MHQP), should issue an annual report on racial and ethnic health disparities in Massachusetts with year-over-year comparisons. The report should include measures of health care quality for children and adolescents.
- Work with the health care community to improve data collection. The Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS), MassHealth, and CHIA should announce plans to phase in and enforce statewide reporting requirements for race, ethnicity, language and disability (RELD) and sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) data to supersede differing standards from health care organizations and municipalities. EOHHS should also partner with community leaders and trusted community organizations to educate patients and consumers about why collecting and sharing this data is essential.
- Release an updated health equity data set for independent research and analysis. The state should publish a continuously updated and anonymized health equity data set in open formats that can be retrieved, downloaded, indexed, and searched by the public to measure racial and ethnic health care disparities.
- Support collaboration to identify, prioritize and eliminate health disparities. EOHHS should collaborate with expert organizations, health systems and academia that have created health equity training, certificates, and fellowships to offer learning opportunities. It should also share best practices to identify, prioritize and eliminate disparities.