Hospital discharges inequitable for many, Mass General finds

A new study from researchers at Boston-based Massachusetts General Hospital found that inequities can lead to challenges for patients at discharge.

The study, published July 21 in the American Journal of Managed Care, surveyed 224 recently discharged patients just before the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey was conducted in five languages.

Five key findings from the study:

1. Twenty percent of patients were alone at discharge, a factor that may play into miscommunication. 

2. Among patients with limited English proficiency, more than half didn't have access to interpreters or translated materials when they were discharged. 

3. One in four Hispanic or Latino patients had a laptop or tablet, while 57 percent of Black patients did. Less than 10 percent of Hispanic or Latino patients had used the patient portal.

4. Patients of Asian or Pacific Islander descent were most likely to be worried about misunderstanding medications and at-home services. 

5. Joseph Betancourt, MD, senior vice president of equity and community health at Massachusetts General, said while the hospital has been working on and progressing equity initiatives for more than 20 years, "we are firm believers that you can't manage what you don't measure, and we have had the courage to be deliberate and look everywhere for opportunities to improve the care we provide to diverse populations."

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