At roughly 4 out of 5 U.S. hospitals, racial and ethnic minorities are underrepresented among patients who access many common services, according to a new U.S. News & World Report analysis of federal data from 2015 through 2019. The analysis compared the number of Black, Hispanic, Native American and Asian/Pacific Islander patients who received certain common procedures at more than 1,400 hospitals to the racial or ethnic makeup of each hospital’s surrounding community.
Across the country, patients who had certain procedures, such as joint replacement and cancer surgery, were disproportionately white. These procedures are usually elective, meaning they are scheduled in advance. Only 29% of hospitals in the analysis treated a proportion of Black patients that was comparable to or higher than the proportion of Black residents in the community. And only 18% and 5% of hospitals met that bar for Hispanic and Asian/Pacific Islander patients, respectively.
These are among the findings of an initiative by U.S. News, publisher of the Best Hospitals rankings, to measure health equity across U.S. hospitals and the communities they serve. Results have been published on hospital profiles at usnews.com/best-hospitals. Because of data limitations, relatively few hospitals could be evaluated for equitable access for Native Americans. In addition, the term Hispanic is used in this article because the administrative claims data in the analysis categorize Medicare beneficiaries’ ethnicity as Hispanic or other.