Despite improvements in health care, differences in care still exist in minority populations, particularly when it comes to cancer. Treatments and outcomes can sometimes vary. There are higher rates of cancer in certain minority groups. While gaps are sometimes linked to genetic factors, they are often caused by cultural barriers that prevent some groups from getting or finishing treatment.
Cone Health is committed to equal care for all patients. We have taken part in research studies that look at patient groups and their treatment outcomes based on race and ethnicity. As a result, we have taken steps to help make sure patients get and finish treatment. For example, Cone Health worked with the Greensboro Health Disparities Collaborative on a study to increase overall treatment and eliminate differences for black patients and white patients with early lung cancer. Using data from the study, Cone Health formed a plan that includes:
- An automated real-time warning system for missed appointments and unmet milestones in expected care.
- A nurse navigator trained in race-specific barriers.
- Quarterly staff trainings around equal care.
A system-based plan tested in 5 cancer centers reduced racial gaps and improved care for all.
Health care networks and the community must work together to match patients with the correct services; then changes can be made system-wide to create equal care. Staff, providers and clinicians must go through cultural training. Cone Health’s quality department works nonstop to collect data that is used to improve patient outcomes.
Cone Health is committed to providing exceptional care to everyone in the community. Those diagnosed with cancer can turn to and trust the doctors and providers at Cone Health Cancer Center for the very best care that includes a plan to prevent and manage serious side effects.
Martin Portillo, MD, is president of Cone Health Medical Group and senior vice president of Ambulatory Services. He earned his medical degree at Rutgers Medical School in Camden, New Jersey. His residency was at Stamford Hospital in Stamford, Connecticut. Dr. Portillo is a fellow in the American College of Physicians and a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives.