Black and Hispanic Patients Face Higher Liver Cancer ED Visits

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Black and Hispanic Patients Face Higher Liver Cancer ED Visits

What You Should Know: 

– A new study by Inovalon, a leader in healthcare data analytics, sheds light on racial and socioeconomic disparities in emergency department (ED) visits for patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the most common type of liver cancer. 

– The study, conducted in collaboration with Genentech, a member of the Roche Group, and Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, highlights the significant impact of social determinants of health (SDOH) on access to quality liver cancer care.

Liver Cancer and Disparities in Care

HCC is a growing health concern, with the fastest-rising rate of cancer-related deaths in the United States. However, minority and vulnerable populations often experience later diagnoses, limited access to specialized care, and poorer outcomes. Social determinants of health, such as income, education, and access to healthy food and housing, play a significant role in these disparities.

The Study: Race, Income, and ED Utilization

The study, titled “Race/Ethnicity and Socioeconomic Position in Emergency Department Utilization in Patients with Hepatocellular Carcinoma,” was published in Future Oncology and is one of the first to examine the combined effects of race/ethnicity and income on HCC patient outcomes. Researchers analyzed data from over 22,000 patients with newly diagnosed HCC between 2015 and 2018.

Key Findings:

  • Higher ED use for Black and Hispanic patients: Black patients had 27% more ED visits compared to white patients, and Hispanic patients had 17% more visits.
  • Racial disparities persist across income levels: Even among high-income patients, Black and Hispanic patients had significantly higher ED use compared to white patients.
  • Asian patients with lower ED utilization: Asian patients showed the lowest ED utilization, with 36% fewer visits than white patients.
  • SDOH data provides valuable insights: The study utilized SDOH data linked to patients’ zip codes, providing a deeper understanding of the impact of neighborhood characteristics on healthcare utilization.

Inovalon’s Data Expertise Drives the Research

Inovalon’s MORE2® Registry, the nation’s largest healthcare claims database, provided the foundation for this research. The registry offers a de-identified dataset encompassing Medicare, Medicaid, commercially insured, and Medicare Advantage patients. Additionally, the data is linked to SDOH information through patients’ zip codes, capturing a comprehensive picture of healthcare access and utilization.

“While socioeconomic factors are associated with disparities in likelihood of emergency department visits, our research also suggests there are broader and more complex structural inequities such as the significantly larger disparities for Black patients at higher income levels,” said Christie Teigland, PhD, VP of Research Science and Advanced Analytics at Inovalon. “Emergency department visits expose patients to infection risk, less specialized care, and financial burden. These findings signal a need to deploy data-driven interventions to improve healthcare access and outcomes to achieve health equity for all individuals.”

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