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Blog | Innovation and Disruption

Healthcare News of Note: The Walmart Healthcare Research Institute could bring more diversity to medical research

Blog | Innovation and Disruption

Healthcare News of Note: The Walmart Healthcare Research Institute could bring more diversity to medical research

  • The newly launched Walmart Healthcare Research Institute will focus on innovative interventions and medications that can make a difference in underrepresented communities.
  • A study shows commercially insured people with chronic diseases experience a significantly greater burden of adverse financial outcomes compared with commercially insured healthier patients.
  • Nearly one in three Black Californians say they have been treated unfairly by a healthcare provider because of their race or ethnicity.

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

1. Walmart Healthcare Research Institute could aid diversity in clinical trials

With the intention to include more underrepresented groups of people in studies, Walmart’s Oct. 11 launch of its Walmart Healthcare Research Institute (WHRI) could help create more diversity in healthcare research.

The launch of WHRI was done “to increase community access to healthcare research that may help lead to safer, higher quality and more equitable healthcare,” Walmart stated in a news release.

“WHRI initially is focused on inclusion in studies on treatments for chronic conditions and innovative treatments that should include members from these communities,” stated the release.

According to data from the Food and Drug Administration, of the 32,000 participants in clinical trials for new molecular entities and therapeutic biologics that were approved in 2020, 75% were white. Meanwhile, 56% were women, 30% were 65 or older, 11% were Hispanic, 8% were Black and 6% were Asian.

“Walmart is focused on studies that can have a health equity impact in the communities it serves and represent all populations,” the release states. “With 90% of Americans living within 10 miles of a Walmart, the retailer can offer solutions to care by meeting customers and patients where they live and work.”

2. The more chronic diseases people have, the higher their likelihood of adverse financial outcomes

Commercially insured people with chronic diseases “experience a significantly greater burden of adverse financial outcomes compared with [commercially insured] healthier patients,” according to a study published Aug. 22 in JAMA Internal Medicine that sought to quantify the association on a societal level.

The cross-sectional study reviewed insurance claims data linked to commercial credit data for nearly 3 million people, all ages 21 and older, who were enrolled in a commercial preferred provider organization in Michigan.

“Among the cohort, 9.6% had medical debt in collections, 8.3% had nonmedical debt in collections, 16.3% had delinquent debt, 19.3% had a low credit score, and 0.6% had recent bankruptcy,” wrote the study authors.

When comparing those with zero chronic conditions with those who had seven to 13 chronic conditions, adverse financial outcomes “were all considerably higher for individuals with more chronic conditions and increased with each added chronic condition,” wrote the authors.

Study results showed that among individuals with medical debt in collections, the estimated amount owed increased with the number of chronic conditions as follows:

  • $784 for individuals with 0 conditions
  • $1,252 for individuals with 7-13 conditions

“In secondary analyses, results showed significant variation in the likelihood and amount of medical debt in collections across specific chronic conditions,” wrote the authors.

3. A third of Black Californians say a healthcare provider treated them ‘unfairly’ because of their race

“Nearly one in three Black Californians has been treated unfairly by a health care provider because of their race or ethnicity,” according to the results of a California Health Care Foundation (CHCF) study  conducted in 2021 and released in October.

“This is higher than those who have been treated poorly because of their perceived ability to pay (22%), weight or body type (15%), or age (13%),” wrote the study authors.

The study included in-depth interviews with 100 Black Californians and 18 focus groups, as well as a statewide survey of 3,325 adult Black Californians. 

The study also reported that Black Californians are highly intentional in their pursuit of physical and mental health and that most Black Californians are insured, have a regular provider and have had at least one visit with a provider in the last year.

Certain groups faced unfair treatment

The experience of being treated unfairly due to race or ethnicity, according to study results, occurred particularly for the following groups of people:

  • Those with mental health conditions (47%)
  • Those who identify as LGBTQIA+ (43%)
  • Those with disabilities (40%)
  • Women (40%, compared to 22% of men)

Overall, 58% of study respondents said they had not experienced unfair treatment because of their race or ethnicity, 9% said they did not know, 1% indicated they preferred not to say and another 1% said the question did not apply to them.

About the Author

Deborah Filipek

is a senior editor with HFMA, Downers Grove, Illinois.

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

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