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Stratis Health has a long record of success in working to reduce health disparities among communities of color and underserved populations. Our disparities reduction efforts include projects aimed at increasing the cultural competence and effectiveness of health care providers serving culturally diverse populations, improving health literacy throughout the community, and focusing on specific populations and targeted clinical conditions.

Improving cultural competence

Stratis Health is improving the capacity of health care organizations to function effectively within the context of the cultural beliefs, behaviors, and needs of health care consumers and their communities.

  • Developed and operates Culture Care Connection—an online learning and resource center that provides actionable resources on cultural competence concepts, health topics, and ethnicities, and links to stakeholder organizations to reflect the needs of Minnesota’s diverse populations and health care organizations. Over 20 profiles of Minnesota’s diverse cultures are available.(UCare grant)
  • Created and distributes a DVD series that offers insights into the cultural and health beliefs of three of Minnesota’s predominant cultures: Hispanic/Latino, Hmong, and Somali. (UCare grant)
  • Provides consultation and technical assistance to clinics and public health agencies to measure and enhance the cultural competence of their clinical and non-clinical staff working with multicultural patient/client populations. We’ve supported nearly 50 organizations across Minnesota—both urban and rural. We are currently working with 23 clinics and three public health agencies in a one-year project to:
    • Assess how well they were meeting the 14 national Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) standards
    • Customize demographic information regarding the changing nature of the populations they serve
    • Offer online training for physicians, nurses, and office staff
  • Impact: In the first two initiatives, aggregate clinic data showed statistically significant performance improvement on all 14 CLAS standards, collectively between baseline and remeasurement. (UCare grant and CMS contract)

With assistance from Stratis Health, nearly 50 clinics have worked to improve the ability of clinicians and clinic staff to provide culturally competent care to racially and ethnically diverse populations. Clinics have implemented numerous interventions including:

  • Sending regular emails to staff to help them understand cultural frameworks to better address health issues of the communities they serve. For example, in health issues such as diabetes and obesity, staff members need to know what their patients eat and what their cultural practices are in order to encourage food choices patients will accept.
  • Incorporating standardized cultural competence requirements into new employee orientations and annual staff performance evaluations.
  • Using results of the CLAS assessment gap analysis in organization wide strategic planning.
  • Installing a three-way phone system in several exam rooms to facilitate better communication when using telephone interpreters in rural communities.

Training on race/ethnicity/language (REL) data

Under Aligning Forces for Quality, we hosted a training for health professionals on why and how to collect REL information, including data collection best practices and using data to improve quality of care. (MN Community Measurement contract, 2009)

Reducing clinical disparities

We led a quality improvement project focused on reducing the disparities in diabetes care for African Americans in Hennepin and Ramsey Counties. Multiple interventions were developed and implemented, including:

  • Conducted academic detailing with targeted physicians and clinics serving significant African American populations, by having a respected African American physician provide unbiased medical information on diabetes care
  • Facilitated community learning sessions for African American health care consumers focused on diet, exercise, emotional wellness, and community outreach

This work led to a decrease in the disparity in lipid testing for diabetes between African American and Caucasian Medicare consumers from 25.0% to 21.2% in Hennepin County and from 30.0% to 22.8% in Ramsey County. (CMS contract 2003-2005)

Understanding barriers to access

We partnered with the University of Minnesota to develop and conduct focus groups and an extensive statewide survey among African American, American Indian, Hispanic/Latino, Hmong, and Somali populations enrolled in state public programs, to better understand their barriers to access and services under the Minnesota Prepaid Medical Assistance Program. (Minnesota Department of Human Services grant 2002-2003)

Establishing the Minnesota health literacy partnership

Stratis Health was among the founding organizations of the state’s health literacy coalition, established in 2005. We provided start-up funds through our Building Healthier Communities award program and continue in a leadership capacity by serving on the steering committee.

Developing low literacy patient education materials

We provided a matching grant to the Minnesota Diabetes Collaborative to develop and disseminate “Control Your Diabetes for Life”—patient education materials that promote consistent diabetes messages across settings aimed at people with limited language skills and those who prefer visual instruction aids. (2009)

Health equity An overview of Stratis Health’s work. (1-page PDF)

Contact Stratis Health for assistance with your quality improvement and patient safety needs.

If your organization has projects it would like to work on, contact us to discuss how we can work together to support initiatives related to reducing disparities.