Biden equity leader emphasizes data

MHE Publication, MHE January 2021, Volume 31, Issue 1

Collecting high-quality data is critical to addressing healthcare equity issues, according to Marcella Nunez-Smith, M.D., M.H.S., whom President-elect Joe Biden has chosen to lead a new White House task force on the issue.

Collecting high-quality data is critical to addressing healthcare equity issues, according to Marcella Nunez-Smith, M.D., M.H.S., whom President-elect Joe Biden has chosen to lead a new White House task force on the issue.

“There is violence in data invisibility. We cannot address what we cannot see,” Nunez-Smith, an associate professor of medicine and epidemiology at the Yale School of Medicine, said during an online forum on racism and discrimination in healthcare last month that was sponsored by Kaiser Family Foundation and the Morehouse School of Medicine’s Satcher Health Leadership Institute. “We are making a choice every time we allow poor quality to hinder our ability to intervene on racial and ethnic minorities.”

Nunez-Smith discussed the lack of compliance with a requirements that race and ethnic group information be included when COVID-19 cases are reported to public health officials and a similar absence in data about COVID-19 testing.

Nunez-Smith, whom Biden appointed earlier to be one of three co-chairs of his COVID-19 task force, also mentioned representation in the physician workforce and collection of data about patients’ experiences of discrimination as crucial to addressing healthcare inequities.

“Healthcare is a right, not a privilege. Healthcare free from racism and discrimination is a right, not a privilege,” she said.

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