New ACC educational alliance addresses healthcare disparities

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In an effort to help reduce racial, ethnic and gender disparities in healthcare, the American College of Cardiology (ACC), the Association of Black Cardiologists (ABC), the National Kidney Foundation, Joslin Diabetes Center and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have formed a collaboration to focus on cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and chronic kidney disease.

The initiative will additionally examine multiple aspects of patient care, including: effectiveness of healthcare quality, patient safety, timeliness of and access to healthcare services, as well as patient centeredness.

"Despite extensive documentation of inequities in healthcare quality, little has been done to improve the delivery of services to ethnic populations," states Jack Lewin, MD, CEO of ACC. "The resources and technology necessary to address disparities in health care exist today. If we can harness these tools and provide training in using them to physicians and their care teams, we will go a long way toward providing evidence-based quality care to all patients regardless of ethnicity.”

For example, statistics show that:

  • Healthcare providers are 40 percent less likely to order sophisticated cardiac tests for African Americans with chest pain than for Caucasians with identical symptoms.
  • African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanics and American Asians are, respectively, 4.5, 3.6, 2 and 1.6 times more likely to develop chronic kidney disease than are Caucasians. Ethnic patients also have a rate of end-stage renal disease that is two to four times higher than Caucasians.
  • Among patients diagnosed with diabetes, African-American patients are less likely (43.6 percent) than Caucasian patients (50.4 percent) to receive an eye exam, an established standard for diabetes care.