The survey involving 49,000 patients showed that Asian and Pacific Islander patients have worst experiences than white patients, within the same practices.
"Our findings suggest that there are statistically significant ethnic disparities in physician-patient communication, access to care, and care coordination, even among comparably insured patients in a variety of health-care markets," said Dr. Hector Rodriguez, lead author and assistant professor of health services at the UW School of Public Health and Community Medicine.
Moreover, Hispanic, Native American, and black patients are often visiting physician practices that are less patient-centered.
Rodriguez said that ethnic disparities in patient experiences might be best addressed by targeting patient experience and quality improvement efforts in low-performing practices with high concentrations of racial and ethnic minority patients.
Primary care practices that serve high concentrations of Latinos and some other minority groups, however, are located in health-care markets with severe physician shortages and lots of uninsured patients.
As a result, efforts to improve the performance of these lower-performing practices should also consider these important market constraints.
The study appears in the October issue of the Journal of General Internal Medicine.