"The two words ‘information’ and ‘communication’ are often used interchangeably, but they signify quite different things. Information is giving out; communication is getting through." -- Sydney J. Harris

Equity Report Shows Continued Gaps in Health Care for Many Minnesotans

For many Minnesotans, good health can be elusive, especially for people of color and new immigrants. Health care outcomes vary widely based on where a person lives, their race, preferred language or country of origin, according to a new report from MN Community Measurement (MNCM).

The 2016 Health Equity of Care Report pinpoints distinct differences in health care between numerous patient populations and geographic regions across Minnesota. Results in the 2016 Health Equity of Care Report clearly show that some racial, ethnic, language and country of origin groups have consistently poorer health care outcomes than other groups. The report also shows how those rates vary by medical group across the state and gives examples of what groups are doing to improve outcomes for their patients.

“Minnesota is one of the healthiest states in the nation, at the same time we have some clear and persistent inequities in health status,” said Jim Chase, MNCM President. “Patients from specific geographic regions and populations, including those in Greater Minnesota, people of color, people who identify as Hispanic, immigrants and people who do not speak proficient English are less likely to receive preventive screenings and more likely to suffer from negative health outcomes.”

The third annual Health Equity of Care Report released by MNCM provides a new benchmark in understanding health inequity in Minnesota. The report is at

The report’s major findings include:

  • White patients generally had better health care outcomes across most measures and most geographic areas.
  • Patients in Greater Minnesota overall had poorer health outcomes than patients in the 13-county Metro area.
  • Patients born in Asian countries tend to have better outcomes across multiple quality measures and geographic regions than patients in other country of origin groups.
  • Generally, patients from large medical groups in the Metro area had higher rates of optimal care.
  • Across measures and geographic areas, American Indian or Alaska Native and Black or African American patients generally had the lowest health outcomes both statewide and regionally.
  • Hispanic patients generally had poorer health care outcomes than non-Hispanic patients across all quality measures and most geographic regions.
  • Patients born in Laos, Somalia and Mexico generally had poorer outcomes than other groups.
  • Patients who preferred speaking Hmong, Somali and Spanish generally had lower screening and care rates compared to other preferred language groups.

Despite the somewhat stark results, examples of success exist and several such examples are featured in the 2016 Health Equity of Care Report. South Lake Pediatrics is highlighted in the report as one such example for their positive results for numerous populations for the Optimal Asthma Control for Children measure.

“We are very proud of our asthma work,” said Laura Saliterman MD, with South Lake Pediatrics. “A great deal of effort has gone into our asthma program and it has produced great results for our patients.”

The 2016 Health Equity of Care Report contains information collected from patients seen for appointments at medical groups throughout Minnesota, and evaluates health care quality in seven areas. Results for the seven health care quality measures were segmented by race, Hispanic ethnicity, preferred language and country of origin. These measures are further reported at statewide, regional and medical group levels. The seven measures are: Adolescent Mental Health and/or Depression Screening, Adolescent Overweight Counseling, Colorectal Cancer Screening, Optimal Asthma Control for Adults, Optimal Asthma Control for Children, Optimal Diabetes Care and Optimal Vascular Care. The Adolescent Mental Health and/or Depression Screening and Adolescent Overweight Counseling measures are new in the 2016 Health Equity of Care Report.

“To reduce and eliminate the barriers to health equity, we must understand where they exist and their scope,” said Chase.


This report is unique because medical groups across the state report the data in a standardized format, which allows MNCM to compare results across medical groups and regions.

MNCM released The Handbook on the Collection of Race/Ethnicity/Language Data in Medical Groups in 2008. This handbook defined and standardized the information that is to be collected from patients by clinics and medical groups, as well as set best practices for collection and reporting. Since then, Minnesota providers have steadily improved their collection and reporting of race, ethnicity, language and country of origin (REL) data. In 2016, nearly all Minnesota providers submitted REL data to MNCM and most did so using best practices. Only data from medical groups who have successfully demonstrated to MNCM that they follow these best practices is included in the Health Equity of Care Report.

Understanding why the gaps exist from one group to another and what can be done to reduce the barriers to optimal health are the reasons behind the MNCM effort to collect and report this information. Specific questions of why, and what is being done, according to Chase, are questions best answered by the state’s medical groups and others health equity advocates.

“We share this report with the community so that advocates, policymakers, public health professionals, communities of color and medical groups can take the necessary steps toward addressing the unique health concerns of their patients, stakeholders and constituents,” said Chase.

About Us

MN Community Measurement is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving health by publicly reporting health care information. A trusted source of health care data and public reporting on quality, cost and patient experience since 2003, MNCM works with medical groups, health plans, employers, consumers and state agencies to spur quality improvement, reduce health care costs and maximize value. Learn more at