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Centers for Medicare and Medicaid reports reveal gender, ethnic disparities in quality measurements

In two thirds of quality measures, men and women scored similarly; differences surfaced in procedures like eye exams and mental health treatment.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

A new report from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services found that men and women fare similarly on many patient experience measures, but women actually fare better than men on five of the 24 measures studied.

The report, one of two issued by CMS this week, was included in Seema Verma's first blog post as acting CMS administrator.

In 16 of 24 patient experience measures, men and women scored more or less the same, showing no significant statistical difference in areas such as getting needed care, customer service and getting appointments in a timely manner.

Yet a higher percentage of women covered by Medicare, and aged 18 to 75, had an eye exam for diabetes in 2015 -- 74.6 percent compared to 71.4 percent of men. Also, 80.4 percent of Medicare-enrolled women with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease aged 40 and older were given a bronchodilator within 30 days of an acute inpatient discharge or emergency room visit. That's compared to 76.8 percent of men who fit the same description.

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Females aged six and older also fared better when it came to mental health treatment, the study showed.

However, out of the 24 patient experience measures, women fared worse in three of them. More women aged 65 and older with dementia were prescribed potentially harmful medication, and more women in that age group were given potentially harmful prescriptions after a fall. More men with a new episode of alcohol or drug dependence received treatment within 14 days the diagnosis -- 28.8 percent of men versus 22.5 percent of women.

The second companion report also examined patient experience measures for men and women, but broke the data down further into ethnicity: Whites, blacks, Hispanics and Asians or Pacific Islanders.

Looking at eight patient experiences measures, the study found that for both men and women, blacks and Hispanics fared similarly to whites when it came to quality and/or timeliness of treatments. But about half of women who were Asian or Pacific Islanders fared worse than whites. For men, Asians actually scored better than whites on one patient experience measure: getting their annual flu vaccine.

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Both Asian women and men scored worse than their white contemporaries when it came to getting appointments and care quickly. They also fared statistically worse than whites in the area of customer service.

There were greater ethnic disparities when the data was shifted to focus on 24 clinical care measures. Most Asian men and women scored similar to or better than whites in most of these measures, while most black men and women scored similar to or worse than whites. Hispanic women were evenly split between faring worse or better than their white counterparts, while slightly more Hispanic men fared worse than whites.

Asian and Hispanic men and women fared better than whites, for example, when it came to colorectal cancer screenings. Black men and women fared worse in that category.

Twitter: @JELagasse