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Providing Care to Diverse Populations

Data, Monitoring, & Evaluation Issues

How to Tell if We're Making a Difference

Presenters:

Iris Garcia, Policy Advisor, Massachusetts Division of Medical Assistance Boston, MA.

Robin Weinick, Ph.D., Senior Social Scientist, Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR), Rockville, MD.


Even if State officials are successful in initiating policies and activities that promote culturally competent health care for diverse populations, officials can anticipate questions about whether these initiatives are having their desired effect.

This session examined the challenging issues associated with the collection and analysis of information needed to assess compliance with cultural-competence standards and the impact of such compliance on health care access and outcomes.

Iris Garcia, Policy Advisor for the Massachusetts Division of Medical Assistance, opened this session by discussing the data collection initiative that has been underway in Massachusetts. The goal of this project is to evaluate, monitor, and improve quality services to MassHealth members. The evaluation project was designed using the Massachusetts conceptual model for a culturally competent system of care.

The goals of the evaluation program were:

  • To establish minimum performance standards for interpreter-service programs.
  • To maximize service-delivery effectiveness through the development of culturally competent systems of care.
  • To establish stratified data collection and analysis of outcome measures/process indicators for targeted quality improvement planning.

Robin Weinick, Senior Social Scientist for AHCPR, followed with a general discussion on how to conceptualize data collection and make the process of data collection feasible within the context of any cultural competence program. She made recommendations for undertaking key activities when planning and designing data collection models.

These activities include:

  • Allocating necessary resources for data collection.
  • Considering how data will be collected during the program-design phase.
  • Determining the goals for the data collection.
  • Creating effective and useful evaluation methods.

Though data collection and evaluation is a valuable use of program resources, Dr. Weinick did point out several challenges that policymakers, program administrators, and health care providers face in trying to collect and evaluate data. Some of these challenges include:

  • High costs.
  • Lack of accuracy in data systems, such as a lack of uniformity and usability of data sets.
  • Timing and feedback.

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