The extremely broad category “Asian-American” results in inadequate data and obscures healthcare disparities. Dr. Elisa Choi joins me on Leading with Health to discuss the realities of healthcare in the Asian-American community and the need for better data.

Elisa Choi, MD, FACP, FIDSA is an Internal Medicine and Infectious Disease specialist who holds numerous leadership positions in greater Boston Asian American community organizations and national physicians’ organizations. She is Chief of her department at a multi-specialty practice and is a teaching faculty member of Harvard Medical School.

Elisa has been an invited speaker at the regional and national level on issues related to internal medicine, infectious disease, health policy and advocacy, and health disparities. She has a strong interest in health disparities affecting the Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities, and dedicates much of her volunteer efforts in advocating on behalf of these issues. She can be reached by email.

Highlights include:

3:30 – EC: “As a community, we make up about 5% of the U.S. population, but we are very much not a monolithic group. In fact, Asian Americans are perhaps the most heterogeneous of any racial group in the United States.”

10:48 – EC: “Having such a broad and generalized category can be problematic, particularly if we know that the category itself really encompasses a very vast, heterogeneous group of very different cultural and ethnic groups. So, ultimately, it can lead to drowning out some of the smaller subgroups in the larger category.”

12:10 – EC: “A lot of the data is either fairly old or fairly limited because, whatever limited amount of more specific data that’s been acquired, it’s not something that often is reproduced as frequently as it should be or needs to be.”

12:45 – EC: “We still will see medical studies to this day that have no data listed for any kind of Asian data.”

14:00 – EC: “Many of them come to the U.S. as refugees and are fleeing politically turbulent regimes. They may have higher rates of post traumatic stress disorder and mental illness subsequent to their escape from their home country.”

17:00 – EC: “You may have somebody who is a refugee from Southeast Asia and may be in some of the lowest economic strata compared to a very highly educated post-college professional from China who is immigrating for further postdoctoral training, who may be in the upper quartile of economic and/or educational attainment. You’re really, essentially, talking about two very, very different groups but they’re all being lumped together currently in the larger, very generalized category of ‘Asian Americans.'”

20:05 – EC: “May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. It’s really a nice time of year where the contributions and all of the accomplishments of those who identify as Asian in the United States are really given a chance to shine.”

23: 20 – EC: “We are the fastest growing racial group and are expected to double over the next two to three decades.”

23:25 – EC: ” We also have the highest proportion of non-native English speakers.”

25:45 – EC: “We make up 5 to 6% of the U.S. population – but up to 50% of the cases of chronic hepatitis and liver disease in the U.S. are those of Asian descent.”

Leading with Health is hosted by Jennifer Michelle. Jennifer has a Master’s in Public Health and Epidemiology and is a certified EMT. As President of Michelle Marketing Strategies, Jennifer specializes in healthcare marketing. She is on a mission to help women find their voice so they can create a stronger, more responsive healthcare system.