Health Equity

September 12, 2023

Expanded data collection provides a more complete patient story and helps Vanderbilt Health advance health equity

All patients have their own unique story to tell, and knowing the details can help Vanderbilt Health advance health equity. That is why the improved approach for collecting patient race and ethnicity data provides a more complete view, beyond a restricting race category.

Vanderbilt Health expanded the way we collect race and ethnicity in December 2022. This more nuanced approach provides high-quality, meaningful, and accurate data about who our patients are and how they self-identify. This information also brings to light inequities that have been masked for certain populations and subgroups for far too long.

These improvements include adding:

  • Middle Eastern/North African as an option under race
  • Hispanic/Latino(a) as an option under race
  • A detailed ethnicity category comprised of more than 91 ethnicities identified in the Nashville Metropolitan area.

The “We Ask Because We Care” campaign is an educational initiative to inform patients of the new race, ethnicity, and detailed ethnicity fields and empower them to tell us how they identify. This campaign includes messaging on more than 6,000 clinical workstations throughout the enterprise and an informative webpage.

In addition, the “We Ask Because We Care” campaign flyer is available in EDocs in English and Spanish (VUMC network required to access). Employees can print and display these in patient areas to make patients aware of the update. The flyer also prompts patients to use the My Health at Vanderbilt patient portal, where they can share their race and ethnicity information on their own. Providing opportunities for patients to self-identify prevents us from making incorrect assumptions.

Resources to assist employees with understanding why these updates were made and with navigating conversations with patients include the Tip Sheet “Indicating Patient Race and Ethnicity” (available in Hubbl within vumc2go) and the eLearning module Race, Ethnicity, and Language: Collecting Patient Data.

The changes to the Race and Ethnicity fields within eStar reflect work that is part of the larger Vanderbilt Health Racial Equity plan.  By better knowing about our patients, we can deliver personalized high-quality care to all our patients.

“Understanding the identities of our patients is essential to providing personalized care and to identifying and addressing health inequities at Vanderbilt Health,” said Consuelo H. Wilkins, MD, MSCI, professor of Medicine, Senior Vice President and senior associate dean for Health Equity and Inclusive Excellence. “We are committed now more than ever to better serving our increasingly diverse patient population.”