Continuing the fight toward health equity, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Office of Minority Health (OMH) released a report in November 2022 on current progress and future actions to improve health equity data collection.

Although CMS has made progress in filling gaps in data collection, it needs to improve the availability, completeness, and quality of health equity data across CMS programs, LaShawn McIver, MD, MPH, OMH director, explained in a blog post. Its next steps include

  • Collecting new health equity elements across CMS programs
  • Aligning health equity data to acceptable standards
  • Implementing health equity scores gradually
  • Leveraging and aligning with U.S. Core Data for Interoperability as applicable
  • Equipping the industry with new tools and capabilities
  • Providing public access to disaggregated data insights  

“CMS is committed to resolving major gaps in data quality, accuracy, and completeness,” McIver said. “CMS must lead the way in health equity and supporting and improving health equity data collection, reporting, and analysis to complete this work.”

In a 2021 update to its 2019–2022 Research Agenda, ONS challenged oncology nurse scientists to develop and test equity-focused cancer care study populations, interventions, and ultimately, social determinants of health–related barriers. “Policy change is needed to support the conduct and dissemination of research to mitigate structural racism and achieve health equity in oncology nursing,” the update authors said. CMS’s new plan supports ONS’s agenda. As those oncology nurse-led study results unfold, oncology nurse advocates have more even more opportunities to promote evidence-based, data-driven policies to overcome inequities and equalize access to cancer care for all.