M Health Fairview launches a sociodemographic data improvement project as part of our health equity efforts

We are committed to addressing health inequities and improving health outcomes across patient populations.

As we announced in June, leaders from Fairview, M Physicians, and the University of Minnesota Medical School have come together to form the HOPE Commission. These individuals will lead an effort to build a system where all members of our community are treated with dignity and respect. We want to ensure all patients receive the highest level and quality of care. The Commission is working to bring together efforts from across our health system and provide new momentum behind this critical work.

One effort that has been prioritized is how we capture our patients’ sociodemographic data. We have dedicated resources to complete this project in less than a year. An interdisciplinary team from across M Health Fairview—including team members from registration, informatics, and analytics to quality and cultural brokers—has been established to inform all aspects of the process to capture this data. The team’s purpose is to design standardized processes that will improve the collection and accuracy of our patients’ sociodemographic data. All data collected will remain confidential in accordance with patient privacy laws.

Why study sociodemographic data?

Sociodemographic data—such as race, ethnicity, language, age, sexual orientation, and gender identity—will help us better understand the populations that we serve and guide decisions about how we deliver care. We can use the data to help create a culturally sensitive approach to the care we provide and ensure we offer culturally appropriate resources such as language services, spiritual health, food services, education, and outreach. In addition, the data can help inform improvement efforts that seek to eliminate inequalities that result from disparities in quality outcomes.

“Standardizing the process and expectations for sociodemographic data collection and reporting is foundational to our equity work,” said Nicole Beauvais, M Health Fairview Vice President of Quality. “And, it’s necessary to inform decisions for addressing gaps or disparities related to outcomes by population.”  

The data in action

There are many examples of how sociodemographic data can be used to design outcome improvements for our patients. During COVID-19, we are using our current data to indicate where there is a need to quickly create pop-up testing sites in partnership with local organizations and public health agencies. The free testing is a way to better serve our Karen and Hmong patients and community members, many of whom face language, cultural, and economic barriers to accessing healthcare. The data also demonstrates the disproportionately high COVID-19 incidence these populations have experienced, which means there are opportunities for culturally specific interventions to diminish the disparity. As the project moves forward, you’ll hear more from the team about the progress being made and changes we are implementing as a result.

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