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News | Population Health Management

Healthcare News of Note: Black patients experience higher rates of adverse patient events relative to white patients, study says

News | Population Health Management

Healthcare News of Note: Black patients experience higher rates of adverse patient events relative to white patients, study says

  • Black patients systematically experience higher rates of hospital-acquired illnesses or injuries related to surgical procedures relative to white patients treated in the same hospital.
  • Global venture capital funding for digital health companies in the first half (1H) of 2021 shattered all previous 1H funding records.
  • 10% of those unvaccinated for COVID-19 want to “wait and see” how the vaccines work for other people.

Over the last few weeks, I have found these industry news stories that should be of interest to healthcare finance professionals.

1. Urban Institute: Black patients suffer higher rates of adverse patient events relative to white patients regardless of insurance coverage

Black patients systematically experience higher rates of hospital-acquired illnesses or injuries related to surgical procedures relative to white patients treated in the same hospital, according to a recent Urban Institute analysis. The outcome was the same no matter their insurance coverage or the percentage of Black patients served by the hospital, according to the study.

7 surgery-related measures

“For all seven of these surgery-related measures, rates of adverse patient safety events were higher for Black patients relative to white patients,” the authors wrote. The measures are:

  1. Perioperative hemorrhage or hematoma
  2. Postoperative acute kidney injury requiring dialysis
  3. Postoperative respiratory failure
  4. Perioperative pulmonary embolism or deep vein thrombosis
  5. Postoperative sepsis
  6. Postoperative wound dehiscence
  7. Abdominopelvic accidental puncture or laceration

“For four of the seven measures, these differences were clinically large and statistically significant. For example, per 1,000 at-risk discharges (discharges at risk for experiencing a specific adverse event based on diagnostic and procedural codes), Black patients had rates of postoperative sepsis infections that were 1.3 cases higher than those of white patients in the same age group, of the same gender, and treated in the same hospital.”

For context, the difference amounts to 27% of the overall risk of postoperative sepsis infections for Black patients, the researchers noted.

Anuj Gangopadhyaya, senior research associate at the Urban Institute, wrote:

“Our previous analysis examining differences in the quality of hospitals accessed by Black and white patients suggested that increasing the racial diversity of patients that high-quality hospitals serve or concentrating resources to improve quality of care at low-performing hospitals would narrow inequities in overall racial disparities of quality of care.

“Findings from this study indicate that this recommendation is a necessary but [an] insufficient step in reducing racial disparities in the quality of health care and that racial equity in patient safety requires transforming the way care is delivered within hospitals as well.”

2. Mercom Capital Group: $15B in VC funding for digital health shatters all previous 1H funding records

“Global venture capital (VC) funding for digital health companies in the first half (1H) of 2021 shattered all previous 1H funding records, with $15 billion, a 138% increase compared to $6.3 billion raised in 1H 2020,” according to Mercom Capital Group’s executive summary of its “1H and Q2 2021 Digital Health Funding and M&A Report.”

The report’s executive summary, released July 26, highlights other key findings, including:

  • Digital health companies raised $7.7 billion in 195 deals in Q2 2021 compared to $7.2 billion in 179 deals in Q1 2021, a 7% increase. Year-over-year, funding was up 175% compared to $2.8 billion raised in 161 deals in Q2 2020.
  • Telemedicine was the top VC-funded digital health category in 1H 2021, with $4.2 billion raised. Wellness with $1.7 billion, mHealth apps with $1.6 billion, analytics with $1.5 billion and clinical decision support with $1.1 billion rounded out the top categories in 1H.
  • Telemedicine was also the top VC-funded digital health category in in Q2 2021, with $2.2 billion. Wellness with $1.1 billion, mHealth apps with $667 million, analytics with $565 million, practice management solutions with $480 million and clinical decision support with $434 million were the other top digital health categories in Q2.

The summary provides additional information, including the number of digital health M&A transactions in 1H 2021 and Q2 2021 and the top five digital health M&A transactions in 1H 2021 by disclosed amount.

3. KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor: 10% of those unvaccinated for COVID-19 want to ‘wait and see’ how the vaccines work for other people

The July KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor states, “Three in ten adults remain unvaccinated including one in ten who say they want to ‘wait and see’ how the vaccine works for other people before getting vaccinated and 3% who say they will do so ‘only if required’ (down from 6% in June).”

According to the latest KFF report, “An additional 14% say they will ‘definitely not’ get a vaccine, a share that has held relatively steady since December. One-fourth of unvaccinated adults (8% of all adults) say they are likely to get a vaccine before the end of 2021, including nearly half (45%) of those who say they want to ‘wait and see.’”

The key demographic differences between the “wait and see” and the “definitely not” groups still center on racial and ethnic identity and political partisanship, the authors wrote. Differences highlighted in the report include:

  • Four in 10 of those in the “wait and see” group are people of color.
  • The group that will “definitely not” get a COVID-19 vaccine is overwhelmingly made up of white adults (65% of the group compared to 50% of the “wait and see” group).
  • More than half (58%) of the “definitely not” group identify as Republican or Republican leaning.
  • Religious identity also plays a role, as white Evangelical Christians make up nearly twice the share of the “definitely not” group (32%) compared with the “wait and see” group.

The July report also covers findings on the following topics:

  • Emergence of the Delta variant
  • Employer mandates to get the vaccine
  • Perceived safety of the different vaccines
  • Mask wearing

The KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor is an ongoing research project tracking the public’s attitudes toward and experiences with COVID-19 vaccinations, using a combination of surveys and qualitative research.

HFMA bonus content

Read this article by HFMA’s Nick Hut, senior editor: “Hospital-at-home programs are gaining traction and have well-documented benefits, experts say.”

Learn how you can reconnect with your community and catch up on the latest industry trends and best practices at HFMA’s Annual Conference Nov. 8-10 in Minneapolis and online. 

About the Author

Deborah Filipek

is a senior editor with HFMA, Westchester, Ill.

Sign up for a free guest account and get access to five free articles every month.

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