Study supports collection of patient race, ethnicity data

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The government should encourage healthcare providers to collect information on patients' race and ethnicity, according to a new study.

Collecting this kind of data, when used in a context to improve healthcare quality, "does not violate federal or state laws or increase the risk of race-based malpractice claims," according to a policy analysis from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services.

To expedite the data collection, the Department of Health and Human Services should issue federal guidance, the study says. The collection of racial and ethnic data in healthcare lags behind government efforts to improve fairness in other area, such as housing and banking, the study said.

The report is available at