12:26 PM

Looking at Data with a Health Equity Lens


By Anu Partap, M.D.

If you are interested in Quality and Safety, then you love data!  And data is everywhere! Dashboards, publications, meetings, social media, email, even the news (sometimes accurate)!  

When working with data, we routinely look critically - “Is the denominator the right one”?  Or “Did the authors make an analytical mistake with their confidence interval?” 

Health disparity/equity work adds interesting dimensions to data interpretation.  Smaller subpopulations are often included in larger data sets.  Subgroup results can often differ in surprising ways when compared to the data as a whole. 

Health equity analyses asks us to uncover “What hidden pearls are buried in these data when they are stratified/divided into subgroups?” 

Cook Children’s teams are analyzing data for health disparities more and more, both internally and as a national partner with peer hospitals.  Sometimes the answers or “hidden pearls” of information are reassuring; sometimes the findings are concerning, leading us to ask “What do we do now?”

In either direction, looking at data with a health equity lens is gratifying, as it naturally aligns with our Promise to every child.  To help everyone get started on analyzing data for health disparities/equity, below are sample health equity questions you can ask of any (accurate) data from (most) any source to look at subgroups to find “hidden pearls”: 

1.  Are data stratified and provided by:

  • Families with different economic resources or insurance plans?
  • Patient races/ethnicities?
  • Patient ages?
  • Patient geographies? 
  • Patient/caregiver spoken languages for health care?
  • Patient sex, sexual orientation or gender identities?

2)      Do stratified/subgroup data show differences from the whole and against other subgroups?  If yes, why and what do we do next? 

Try one out!  Share what you find!  We’d love to hear from you. anu.partap@cookchildren.org