- Detroit leads the nation as the most racially segregated hospital market, followed by St. Louis and Kansas City, Missouri, according to the Lown Institute, a healthcare think tank.
- Atlanta, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and Manhattan also landed on Lown's top-10 list of the most racially segregated hospital markets in the country.
- Researchers compared the populations that hospitals serve to their community area or areas they could serve. The report measures "how well more than 2,800 U.S. hospitals serve people of color in their surrounding community," per the methodology.
The pandemic exposed health inequities in the U.S. as people of color were likely to become infected, be hospitalized and die as a result of COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
With this backdrop, the Lown Institute sought to measure racial inclusivity across metropolitan cities in the U.S. by using Medicare claims from the first year of the pandemic and data from the U.S. Census Bureau's 2020 community survey.
The most racially segregated hospital markets
In the 10 most segregated cities, at least half of their hospitals didn't match their community demographics. In Detroit, nine out of 10 of its hospitals contributed to its status, researchers found.
In addition to racially segregated markets, Lown's study also reported that elective procedures "skew disproportionately white," which it noted could be a driver behind the least inclusive hospitals.
"Doing more elective procedures often means hospitals seeking to serve whiter and wealthier patients," Vikas Saini, president of the Lown Institute, said in a statement. "Given the destructive impact of the pandemic on communities of color, a return to business as usual isn’t acceptable and almost guarantees slipping backwards on racial equity."
Still, the study does show that when it came to COVID-19, even hospitals in the most racially segregated markets did treat patient populations that reflected the makeup of their communities. This is "proof that hospitals can be more equitable in caring for other life-threatening chronic conditions," researchers said in the report.
The Lown analysis also ranks the most racially inclusive hospitals, which includes facilities in Belle Grade, Florida; Madras, Oregon; New York, Boston and Chicago.