Feds Produce Interactive Disparities Mapping Tool

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has released an online, interactive Medicare mapping device that permits users to compare geographic, racial and ethnic disparities for 18 chronic conditions as well as spending, hospitalizations, readmissions and mortality. Produced for CMS’ Office of Minority Health (OMH), by KPMG and NORC at the University of Chicago, the tool is intended to health services researchers, quality improvement professionals and others “pinpoint disparities in health care outcomes by population and condition,” according to OMH Director Cara James. The tool is part of the CMS Equity Plan for Improving Quality in Medicare, which was published last fall, and which includes six priority areas. These address: (1) expanding the collection, reporting, and analysis of standardized data, (2) evaluating disparities impacts and integrating equity solutions across CMS programs, (3) developing and disseminating promising approaches to reducing health disparities; (4) increasing the ability of the health care workforce to meet the needs of vulnerable populations, (5) improving communication and language access for individuals with limited English proficiency and persons with disabilities, and (6) increasing the physical accessibility of health care facilities. To access the Mapping tool and the Equity Plan, go to the CMS website at www.cms.hhs.gov.