Kaiser Permanente Uses AHRQ Report in Efforts to Reduce Health Disparities
AHRQ's National Healthcare Disparities Report (NHDR) has provided an additional catalyst for action by the Kaiser Permanente Care Management Institute (CMI). The NHDR has helped raise awareness at CMI and has influenced its activities related to health care disparities in regions of the country where Kaiser has health plans.
CMI Executive Director Paul Wallace, MD, says that the report has heightened recognition of the need to address disparities as "not just an opportunity, but an obligation" for the organization. Referring to the Institute of Medicine report, Crossing the Quality Chasm, he notes that the AHRQ disparities report focused attention on "equity, the least well-addressed" of the five factors identified in the IOM report. The AHRQ report represents an additional impetus for change in that area, according to Wallace.
Data on Kaiser plan members' race and ethnicity are being collected based on patient self-report, while Medicaid-recipient status can serve as a surrogate for socioeconomic status for some members. These data elements are stored within the Kaiser plans' databases and utilized increasingly by analysts and planners to help shape clinical practice and address disparities across the Kaiser system.
CMI, founded in 1997 and based in Oakland, California, has a mission of "making the right thing easier" for the 8.4 million Americans enrolled in Kaiser plans, particularly those being treated for chronic diseases. Wallace characterizes the CMI as a "shared service" for supporting care and disease management activities across Kaiser's eight regions. CMI's clinical priorities include asthma, cardiovascular disease, depression, diabetes, elder care, heart failure, weight management, and chronic pain.