Separate and Unequal

Department of Medicine, Loyola University Medical Center, 2160 S First Avenue, Maywood, IL 60153, USA.
Archives of internal medicine (Impact Factor: 17.33). 03/2009; 169(3):243-50. DOI: 10.1001/archinternmed.2008.559
Source: PubMed


Few studies have examined the influence of physician workplace conditions on health care disparities. We compared 96 primary care clinics in New York, New York, and in the upper Midwest serving various proportions of minority patients to determine differences in workplace organizational characteristics.
Cross-sectional data are from surveys of 96 clinic managers, 388 primary care physicians, and 1701 of their adult patients with hypertension, diabetes mellitus, or congestive heart failure participating in the Minimizing Error, Maximizing Outcome (MEMO) study. Data from 27 clinics with at least 30% minority patients were contrasted with data from 69 clinics with less than 30% minority patients.
Compared with clinics serving less than 30% minority patients, clinics serving at least 30% minority patients have less access to medical supplies (2.7 vs 3.4, P < .001), referral specialists (3.0 vs 3.5, P < .005) on a scale of 1 (none) to 4 (great), and examination rooms per physician (2.2 vs 2.7, P =.002) . Their patients are more frequently depressed (22.8% vs 12.1%), are more often covered by Medicaid (30.2% vs 11.4%), and report lower health literacy (3.7 vs 4.4) on a scale of 1 (low) to 5 (high) (P < .001 for all). Physicians from clinics serving higher proportions of minority populations perceive their patients as frequently speaking little or no English (27.1% vs 3.4%, P =.004), having more chronic pain (24.1% vs 12.9%, P < .001) and substance abuse problems (15.1% vs 10.1%, P =.005), and being more medically complex (53.1% vs 39.9%) and psychosocially complex (44.9% vs 28.2%) (P < .001 for both). In regression analyses, clinics with at least 30% minority patients are more likely to have chaotic work environments (odds ratio, 4.0; P =.003) and to have fewer physicians reporting high work control (0.2; P =.003) or high job satisfaction (0.4; P =.01).
Clinics serving higher proportions of minority patients have more challenging workplace and organizational characteristics.

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    • "Questions regarding bottlenecks in primary clinics were adapted from clinic manager surveys administered by the Minimizing Error, Maximizing Outcome Study [21]. In their study, questions measuring the degree of bottleneck in different areas of a primary care clinic were asked after physicians pointed out process factors affecting quality and errors during focus groups [21,22]. These factors included inadequate resources, ambiguous or nonexistent policies, poor communication and errors in information systems [23]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background Although oral hypoglycemic agents (OHAs) are an essential element of therapy for the management of type 2 diabetes, OHA adherence is often suboptimal. Pharmacists are increasingly being integrated into primary care as part of the move towards a patient-centered medical home and may have a positive influence on medication use. We examined whether the presence of pharmacists in primary care clinics was associated with higher OHA adherence. Methods This retrospective cohort study analyzed 280,603 diabetes patients in 196 primary care clinics within the Veterans Affairs healthcare system. Pharmacists presence, number of pharmacist full-time equivalents (FTEs), and the degree to which pharmacy services are perceived as a bottleneck in each clinic were obtained from the 2007 VA Clinical Practice Organizational Survey—Primary Care Director Module. Patient-level adherence to OHAs using medication possession ratios (MPRs) were constructed using refill data from administrative pharmacy databases after adjusting for patient characteristics. Clinic-level OHA adherence was measured as the proportion of patients with MPR >= 80%. We analyzed associations between pharmacy measures and clinic-level adherence using linear regression. Results We found no significant association between pharmacist presence and clinic-level OHA adherence. However, adherence was lower in clinics where pharmacy services were perceived as a bottleneck. Conclusions Pharmacist presence, regardless of the amount of FTE, was not associated with OHA medication adherence in primary care clinics. The exact role of pharmacists in clinics needs closer examination in order to determine how to most effectively use these resources to improve patient-centered outcomes including medication adherence.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2012 · BMC Health Services Research
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    • "Providing self-management support is resource-intensive, requiring re-training of staff and organizational change, investments in information technology, and tailoring programs to engage and serve diverse populations [20-22]. Thus, traditional self-management support approaches often do not reach significant and growing segments of the chronic disease population, such as the uninsured or publicly-insured or those with communication barriers [1,6,17,23-25]. Given the documented challenges with translating research into real-world practice, practical implementation and evaluation research is needed in settings where vulnerable populations receive care [4,26-31]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Health information technology can enhance self-management and quality of life for patients with chronic disease and overcome healthcare barriers for patients with limited English proficiency. After a randomized controlled trial of a multilingual automated telephone self-management support program (ATSM) improved patient-centered dimensions of diabetes care in safety net clinics, we collaborated with a nonprofit Medicaid managed care plan to translate research into practice, offering ATSM as a covered benefit and augmenting ATSM to promote medication activation. This paper describes the protocol of the Self-Management Automated and Real-Time Telephonic Support Project (SMARTSteps). This controlled quasi-experimental trial used a wait-list variant of a stepped wedge design to enroll 362 adult health plan members with diabetes who speak English, Cantonese, or Spanish and receive care at 4 publicly-funded clinics. Through language-stratified randomization, participants were assigned to four intervention statuses: SMARTSteps-ONLY, SMARTSteps-PLUS, or wait-list for either intervention. In addition to usual primary care, intervention participants received 27 weekly calls in their preferred language with rotating queries and response-triggered education about self-care, medication adherence, safety concerns, psychological issues, and preventive services. Health coaches from the health plan called patients with out-of-range responses for collaborative goal setting and action planning. SMARTSteps-PLUS also included health coach calls to promote medication activation, adherence and intensification, if triggered by ATSM-reported non-adherence, refill non-adherence from pharmacy claims, or suboptimal cardiometabolic indicators. Wait-list patients crossed-over to SMARTSteps-ONLY or -PLUS at 6 months. For participants who agreed to structured telephone interviews at baseline and 6 months (n = 252), primary outcomes will be changes in quality of life and functional status with secondary outcomes of 6-month changes in self-management behaviors/efficacy and patient-centered processes of care. We will also evaluate 6-month changes in cardiometabolic (HbA1c, blood pressure, and LDL) and utilization indicators for all participants. Outcomes will provide evidence regarding real-world implementation of ATSM within a Medicaid managed care plan serving safety net settings. The evaluation trial will provide insight into translating and scaling up health information technology interventions for linguistically and culturally diverse vulnerable populations with chronic disease. NCT00683020.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2012 · BMC Health Services Research
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    • "Underserved patients often face insurance[3,4] and other financial barriers,[5] in addition to barriers related to knowledge,[6,7] mistrust,[8] limited English proficiency (LEP),[9] self efficacy, [10-12] and health care literacy[13]. Underserved patients are more likely to be cared for in under-resourced practices[14-16]. "
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