Select Key Metrics on Racism & Discrimination in Healthcare Settings


Availability of culturally competent providers; reports of discrimination or microaggressions in health care.


Referrals to specialty care; medication prescription rates; insurance navigation and approval; appointment wait times & delays in care.


Use of race as corrective factor in algorithms; rates of misdiagnosis & approval for treatments.


32%of Black or African Americans report that they have personally experienced racial discrimination when going to a doctor or a health clinic.


22%have avoided seeking medical care out of concern about discrimination.


Upon seeking care, Black Philadelphians note that navigating specialty care can be difficult with limited access to specialists and long wait times for appointments.

Hispanic Philadelphians report that undocumented community members may also avoid or delay seeking care due to fear of deportation and separation from family and are less likely to have health insurance, greatly impacting access to care.


Racial bias and discrimination can negatively affect the quality of care delivered when it is received.


ChecklistClinical decision tools that unjustly account for race such as race correction in estimating kidney filtration rate can make Black patients ineligible for transplants, referral to specialty care, or certain medication prescriptions.


PrescriptionBlack Philadelphians are less likely to be prescribed opioids and other high-risk medications and are less likely to receive Buprenorphine, a medication used to treat opioid addiction.


Socioeconomic disadvantage contributes to gaps in education, income, and employment opportunities, leading to lower levels of health literacy that compound the effects of racism and discrimination in health care settings.  

A lack of racial and ethnic diversity among health care professionals is driven by systemic barriers and may further increase the risk of Black and Hispanic patients experiencing racial discrimination in health care settings. This may also contribute to distrust in the health care system among Black Americans due to present-day inequities and discriminatory, unethical, and abusive historical events such as the Tuskegee Study.

Ongoing Efforts in the Philadelphia Community

The Penn Medicine Urban Health Lab is undertaking several initiatives to dismantle racism within health care, in part by providing an avenue for health care workers and patients to report experiences of racism.

In collaboration with the Center for Health Care Innovation, the Urban Health Lab developed Lift Every Voice, a low-friction, anonymous digital platform design to actively collect experiences and observations of racism in the workplace. The goal of Lift Every Voice is to spark conversation among staff, catalyze antiracist action among leaders, and intervene on experiences of racism in the healthcare workplace.

The Urban Health Lab is also using remote patient engagement (text messaging) and qualitative methods to investigate Black patient perceptions of racism during visits to the emergency department with the goal of guiding institutional change.

Efforts listed here may be independent of Accelerate Health Equity. Check back to learn about a broader list of health equity efforts.