Joseph R. Betancourt, MD, MPH


Director, The Disparities Solutions Center; Senior Scientist, The Mongan Institute for Health Policy; Director of Multicultural Education, Multicultural Affairs Office, Massachusetts General Hospital; Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Co-Founder, Quality Interactions, Inc., Boston, MA

Dr. Betancourt directs the Disparities Solutions Center, which works with healthcare organizations to improve quality of care, address racial and ethnic disparities, and achieve equity in health care. He is also the director of multicultural education for Massachusetts General Hospital, and an expert in cross-cultural care and communication. Additionally, Dr. Betancourt is a co-founder of Quality Interactions, Inc., an industry-leading company that creates and deploys a portfolio of e-learning programs in the area of cross-cultural care and communication, which more than 125,000 health care professionals across the country have used. He has served on several Institute of Medicine committees, including those that produced the publications "Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Health Care" and "Guidance for a National Health Care Disparities Report." He also advises government, healthcare systems, and other public and private sector organizations on strategies to improve quality of care and eliminate disparities. He is a practicing internist, co-chairs the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Committee on Racial and Ethnic Disparities, and sits on the Boston Public Health Commission. Joseph is on the Boards of Trinity CHE, a large, national healthcare system, and Neighborhood Health Plan, based in Boston. He practices internal medicine at the MGH Internal Medicine Associates. Joseph received his Bachelor of Science from the University of Maryland, his medical degree from the UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School, and he completed his residency in internal medicine at the New York Hospital–Cornell Medical Center. Following residency, he completed The Commonwealth Fund/Harvard University Fellowship in Minority Health Policy, and received his master’s degree in public health from Harvard University. Joseph is a Fellow of the inaugural class of the Health Innovators Fellowship and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network.






Latino Diabetes Program Structural Assessment: A report to the DHHS on Latino Diabetes Programs in the Region


The health outcomes disparities between majority and minority Americans have been well documented, and there is currently a national mandate to bridge this “health gap”.  The President’s Initiative on Race has targeted several areas as part of its mission to diminish health disparities among Americans, one such chronic disease being diabetes. Diabetes is a major public health problem which disproportionately affects the Latino population in this country.  According to the National Institute of Health’s Diabetes in America report of 1995, “Diabetes in Hispanic Americans is a serious health challenge because of the increased prevalence of the disease in this group, the greater number of risk factors, the greater incidence of complications, and the growing population of people of Hispanic ethnicity in the United States”.

The Latino Health Initiative is an action plan (under the auspices of the regional office of the Department of Health and Human Services {DHHS} serving MA, NH, ME, VT, RI and CT) designed to convene government officials, health professionals, and community representatives to address public health problems specific to the Latino population. In essence the LHI is an answer to the President’s call to action.  As part of the LHI, a Diabetes Work Group was organized to devise ways to decrease the burden of diabetic complications among Latinos in the region by improving diabetic outreach, diagnosis/screening, and treatment to this population. The first step in this process requires a structural assessment of already existing programs with the aforementioned components of outreach, screening/diagnosis and treatment as their mission.  The goal of this program structural assessment would be to determine what methods may be already successful, and what resources and infrastructure already exist in New England, to achieve our end of improving Latino diabetes outcomes.  It is the ultimate hope of the LHI that either some parts of already existing programs, or a successful program itself, can be piloted and expanded throughout the region in an attempt to affect Latino diabetes care.

A structural assessment of four programs that specifically target Latino diabetics in Boston, Massachusetts, Providence, Rhode Island, and Hartford, Connecticut was completed using an organizational and outcome measure based framework.  This assessment is to be used by the DHHS LHI to establish new operational policy which would foster the development and piloting of new programs whose goals are to improve care to Latino diabetics within the region.

Faculty Preceptor:

Sam Shekar, MD, MPH, Regional Health Administrator
Department of Health and Human Services, Region 1