Report finds progress, but big health disparities remain in Minn.

An annual report finds Minnesota continues to have some of the largest racial and ethnic health disparities in the nation, but there is progress in closing the gaps.

"We have a lot of gaps in Minnesota in our health care system in outcomes and in patient satisfaction that vary by race, ethnicity, language and, you know, the country where somebody was born," said health economist Julie Sonier, president of Minnesota Community Measurement, which did the analysis. "But I think the real take-home is on that we are seeing progress and that there are absolutely bright spots."

One of those bright spots is an increase in colorectal cancer screening statewide since 2014, Sonier said.

"In particular, the Spanish speaking population in Minnesota has seen a 10 percentage point increase in the rate of colorectal cancer screening, which is far larger than the rate for statewide," she said. "So that's great news, but we still have gaps. We still have work to do there."

The state still has a long way to go to address health disparities in general, Sonier said, but she's encouraged.

"Governor Dayton has declared January to be health equity month, the Minnesota Department of Health is working very hard on this issue and the Minnesota Medical Association, as well, is doing a lot of activity around this issue," she said.