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June 9, 2008

Improving Care Quality and Reducing Disparities: Physicians' Roles

Arch Intern Med. 2008;168(11):1135-1136. doi:10.1001/archinte.168.11.1135

For several decades, intense health care policy interest in clinical practice variation has inspired efforts to identify inappropriate variation, that is, differences in care delivery that are not attributable to clinical differences in disease or patient preferences. Practice variations associated with patient race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, geography, and other factors not attributable to clinical manifestations are prevalent and reflect suboptimal return on our investment in health care. In addition, disparities in access to care may lead to inefficient and costly patterns of care and contribute to long-standing disparities in health status and outcomes. As the US population becomes increasingly diverse, there is growing urgency underlying the imperative to identify solutions to the challenges of “unequal treatment.”