Press Release

AHA Recognizes Hospitals with the Equity of Care Award

WASHINGTON (June 30, 2015) – Henry Ford Health System (HFHS) in Detroit and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJ) in New Brunswick, N.J. are both winners of the second annual Equity of Care Award, the American Hospital Association (AHA) announced today. The AHA award recognizes hospitals for their efforts to reduce health care disparities and promote diversity within the organization’s leadership and staff. AnMed Health in Anderson, S.C. and Rush University Medical Center in Chicago will be recognized as honorees. The award will be presented July 24 at the Health Forum/AHA Leadership Summit in San Francisco.

“These hospitals are a testament to the tremendous efforts underway to eliminate health care disparities and promote diversity at the local and national level,” said AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock. “The honorees represent what can be achieved to ensure care is provided equitably to all and signifies where we, as a health care field, should strive.”

This year’s winners have successfully incorporated the use of race, ethnicity and language preference data to better understand their care process and seek continual improvements; cultural competency to understand their community and ensure individualized care to all those in need; and diversity measurement to confirm their leadership and board reflect the community they serve.


Winner: Henry Ford Health System

HFHS collects demographic data from more than 90 percent of its patients and embeds that data into Equity Dashboards that are part of the overall quality and service metrics tracked by all business units to spur interventions in areas like diabetes outcomes among African American patients. HFHS uses cultural competency as an ongoing training for employees and clinicians to provide high-quality care. Using Employee Resource Groups, a Healthcare Equity Scholars Program and resident training, HFHS is continually evolving and improving its approach. HFHS also is dedicated to diversity through the use of a candidate pool that reflects set goals for minorities and women. Its efforts have been rewarded with a 57 percent increase in minorities in top leadership levels and a 44 percent increase in females in top leadership levels from 2009 to 2014.


Winner: Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital

RWJ is committed to addressing health inequities through its REAL Data Integrity LEAN Six Sigma Project. RWJ’s focus on clean-accurate data to identify opportunities for improved care has resulted in an increased use of interpreter services and an associated decrease in readmission, specifically heart failure, by 30 percent. In addition, RWJ looked at transitional care for low-income patients to close the gap between patients discharge and their follow-up visit to their primary care physician. RWJ’s efforts resulted in a reduction of its overall 30-day hospital readmission rate from 13 percent in 2013 to 5.2 percent in 2014. This type of organizational-wide focus is evidenced through its work on diversity and inclusion. Since 2012, RWJ increased leadership diversity from 4 percent to 32 percent minority representation. Board diversity also has increased from 17 percent in 2011 to 22 percent today.


Honoree: AnMed Health in Anderson, S.C. was noted for its:

  • Use of a disparities dashboard that provides access to reliable REAL data.
  • A centralized language service solution.
  • AnMed Health Differentiology Leadership Academy that has provided 80 percent of the leadership team a two-month learning experience to identify “diversity blind spots.”


Honoree: Rush University Medical Center in Chicago was noted for its:

  • Use of technology with a “disparities navigator” to examine different health outcomes among patients and target interventions.
  • A longstanding Language Interpreters Program with a documented improvement in care. 
  • Pioneering work through their ADA Task Force.


The AHA Equity of Care Award is presented annually and recognizes outstanding efforts among hospitals and care systems to advance equity of care to all patients and to spread lessons learned and progress toward achieving health equity. In 2011, the AHA joined four national health care organizations to issue a call to action to eliminate health care disparities by focusing on increasing the collection of race, ethnicity and language preference data; increasing cultural competency training; and increasing diversity in governance and leadership.

About the AHA

The AHA is a not-for-profit association of health care provider organizations and individuals that are committed to the health improvement of their communities. The AHA is the national advocate for its members, which include nearly 5,000 hospitals, health care systems, networks, other providers of care and 43,000 individual members. Founded in 1898, the AHA provides education for health care leaders and is a source of information on health care issues and trends. For more information, visit the AHA website at

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