Race, Ethnicity and Language Data Collection

Our population’s increasing diversity has significant implications for the healthcare delivery system, especially considering the documented healthcare disparities in access, healthcare utilization and health outcomes of different patient groups. To address these healthcare disparities, healthcare providers, state governments and other organizations need accurate information about the racial and ethnic makeup of the communities they serve. NJHA’s Health Research and Educational Trust published report findings in 2004 documenting serious gaps in the completeness and accuracy of this data.

HRET launched an intensive educational initiative targeting hospital access managers and registration staff to improve hospital practices of collecting and reporting patient race, ethnicity and language data and enhance accuracy and reliability of these data fields. Through this initiative, HRET provides a set of standardized data collection guidelines, a training curriculum and educational tools and resources in a variety of formats. Learn More >>

Web-based Interactive Course
HRET also developed an easy-to-use online tool designed to provide ongoing training on standardized protocols for collecting race, ethnicity and primary language data during patient registration. The course includes the following six learning lessons and takes approximately one hour to complete:

  • Lesson 1 – Background and use of data
  • Lesson 2 – Data quality issues and previous studies
  • Lesson 3 – Guidelines for collecting data on patient characteristics
  • Lesson 4 – Steps on how to collect patient race and ethnicity data
  • Lesson 5 – Handling unique and complex situations
  • Lesson 6 – Steps on how to collect patient primary language data

Additional Tools and Resources

  • Instructional DVD: A 15-minute training DVD hosted by nationally recognized expert Dr. Bruce Seigel illustrating how to conduct patient interviews, ask race and ethnicity questions and handle difficult situations in an effective and time-efficient manner.
  • Train-the-Trainer Manual: A training manual designed for trainers, including comprehensive information on the importance of collecting patient race and ethnicity data, recommended categories, collection guidelines and tips, interview scripts, strategies on how to handle complex situations.
  • Reference Toolkit for Registrars: A toolkit designed as a reference tool to guide registrars in applying the standardized data collection protocols. This toolkit includes step-by-step directions on how to collect race, ethnicity and primary language data from patients during the registration process, quick reference tools with definitions and additional patient responses, a list of frequently asked questions and patient information cards translated in 14 languages.
  • Language Identification Guide: A guide designed to help diverse patients identify their primary language, including “I Speak…” phrases translated to 47 different languages.


Research Department



Pre Sm
Improved accuracy of discharge data on patient race and ethnicity can help hospitals and the state better identify areas of healthcare disparities, assess community needs and design targeted service interventions to improve care.

View Report >>



This one-hour online course was designed to train healthcare staff on standardized guidelines for collecting patient race, ethnicity and primary language data.

Learn More >>



These resources are designed for personnel who handle patient registration
and admission, patient access supervisors, hospital education unit trainers and other healthcare staff as appropriate.

Learn More >>