When it comes to health disparities, the AHA and its Institute for Diversity and Health Equity (IFDHE) remain unwavering in our commitment to helping health care organizations create opportunities for all individuals to reach their highest potential for health. We recognize that each organization is at a different point on its health equity journey. Today, we are launching the first in a new series of toolkits designed to help hospitals and health systems make progress in advancing their health equity agenda. 

Why now? Because we are at a pivotal moment to make transformative and sustained improvements in public health and health care. The hospital field is seeing a renewed push for change driven in part by last summer’s racial injustices and the experiences of historically marginalized populations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Systemic and substantial change require both awareness and action.

The four-part Health Equity Resource Series toolkits we are developing focus on the foundational pillars to accelerate progress toward achieving health equity. This first one, Data-Driven Care Delivery: Data Collection, Stratification and Use, addresses the importance of segmenting and leveraging patient data to address disparate care outcomes and drive improvements. The other three toolkits will cover the following topics:

  • Cultural competency and implicit bias training and education;
  • Diversity and inclusion in leadership and governance roles; and
  • Sustainable community partnerships focused on improving equity.

This toolkit series provides guidance for hospitals to identify key stakeholders and decision-makers among its executive and clinical care teams to shape its health equity strategies and tactics. It also includes information on how organizations may coordinate efforts across departments as well as examples of leading practices that generate successful results. Whether you are a large multi-state health system or a small rural hospital, this resource can help your organization prioritize health equity as a key strategy to improve and enhance patient outcomes — regardless of how far along you are on the journey to building health equity strategies. 

Now, more than ever, we must recommit to eliminating health disparities. Our nation’s hospital and health system leaders are uniquely positioned to deploy strategies and solutions to advance health equity, diversity and inclusion and share those successes broadly. Understanding health equity and addressing health care disparities begins with recognizing the unique needs of different patients and patient populations within every community. We must harness our collective power to champion changes that will ensure high-quality, equitable care for all.

 

Joy Lewis is AHA’s senior vice president of health equity strategies. She also is the executive director of the AHA’s Institute for Diversity and Health Equity

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