UC Davis Medical Center awarded for efforts to ...
NEWS | March 18, 2013

UC Davis Medical Center awarded for efforts to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in health care


UC Davis Medical Center’s expansive, highly successful collection of race, ethnicity and language data from its patients has received a “Best Overall Project” award in the Disparities Leadership Program class of 2012-13.

The medical center is one of four health-care organizations from around the United States selected for the award. The various criteria on which the award is based include a project’s breadth of impact on an organization, the use of Disparities Leadership Program tools and skills, and overall achievements over the course of the year.

"It's gratifying for UC Davis Medical Center to receive recognition for our national leadership role in ensuring that all people have access to the clinical care and opportunities they need to live a healthy and fulfilling life," said Vincent Johnson, chief operating officer of the medical center. "We are particularly pleased to be recognized for our efforts to systematically collect race, ethnicity and language data from our patients. A truly broad, collaborative undertaking has allowed us to be very successful at collecting this information from across our organization."

In November 2010, the medical center launched an initiative to systematically collect race, ethnicity and language (REAL) data from its patients. UC Davis now is successfully retrieving that information from 85.4 percent of its patients. When the medical center’s REAL Steering Committee began its initiative, only 32 percent of UC Davis patients were providing REAL data.

Allan Siefkin, chief medical officer of UC Davis Medical Center, chairs the REAL Steering Committee. Its co-chair is Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola, director of the UC Davis Center for Reducing Health Disparities.

The data-collection initiative encompassed a range of departments, programs and individuals across the medical center, and included extensive education and training of staff.

The Disparities Leadership Program is the first program of its kind in the nation, and is designed for leaders from hospitals, health insurance plans, and other health-care organizations who are seeking to develop practical strategies to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in health care. The program is led by the Disparities Solutions Center at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in Boston.

The goal of the Disparities Leadership Program is to create a cadre of health-care leaders who have:

  • in-depth knowledge of the research and causes of health-care disparities;
  • cutting-edge, quality improvement strategies and skills to address disparities; and
  • leadership skills to implement solutions to help transform their organizations.

“This program is about developing new leaders and taking action. It is about helping individuals and their health-care organizations understand the critical connection between improving quality and eliminating disparities in care through a concerted, coordinated effort to change our health-care system,” said Joseph R. Betancourt, director of the Disparities Solutions Center at MGH, and a member of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) Committee, which produced the 2002 landmark report “Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Health Care.”

This report revealed striking disparities in the quality of health-care services delivered to minority and white patients — even for patients of the same socioeconomic background and access to care.

“These health-care organizations are clearly distinguishing themselves as national leaders by taking action to identify and address disparities, and their hard work and accomplishments are worthy of recognition,” Betancourt said.

The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) is a co-sponsor of the Disparities Leadership Program, which is supported by Joint Commission Resources (JCR), an affiliate of the Joint Commission.

UC Davis Medical Center is a comprehensive academic medical center where clinical practice, teaching and research converge to advance human health. Centers of excellence include the National Cancer Institute-designated UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center; the region's only Level 1 pediatric and adult trauma centers; the UC Davis MIND Institute, devoted to finding treatments and cures for neurodevelopmental disorders; and the UC Davis Children's Hospital. The medical center serves a 33-county, 65,000-square-mile area that stretches north to the Oregon border and east to Nevada. It further extends its reach through the award-winning telemedicine program, which gives remote, medically underserved communities throughout California unprecedented access to specialty and subspecialty care. For more information, visit medicalcenter.ucdavis.edu.