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Patients of Color See COVID-19 Testing Access, Health Disparities

September 23, 2020 – New research out of the Epic Health Research Network (EHRN) and the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) builds on months of literature outlining COVID-19 racial health disparities and adds new insights about COVID-19 testing access disparities.

Specifically, the study affirms the fact that patients of color experience COVID-19 at higher rates than their White counterparts, and in more severe forms. The study also found that patients of color may experience barriers to COVID-19 testing.

Epic launched the network in 2020 to make timely research about COVID-19 available to the healthcare community. Unlike traditional journals, studies are reviewed internally and externally but do not undergo traditional peer review.

The assessment looked at 50 million patients within the Epic EHR network who have interacted with a health system within the past and who have race and demographic data entered into the health record. Because of lower sample size, the study did not look at American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) populations, although it should be noted that separate data has indicated racial health disparities among these communities, as well.

Foremost, the assessment found that despite negligible racial differences in COVID-19 testing rates, Hispanic, Black, and Asian patients made up the lion’s share of positive results. Hispanic patients were two and a half more likely and Black and Asian patients twice as likely to test positively for COVID-19 than their White peers.

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