AHA Recognizes Kaiser Permanente with 2017 Equity of Care Award

Kaiser Permanente of Oakland, Calif., will receive the 2017 AHA Equity of Care Award, the American Hospital Association (AHA) announced today.

Press Release

AHA Recognizes Kaiser Permanente with 2017 Equity of Care Award

Kaiser Permanente of Oakland, Calif., will receive the 2017 AHA Equity of Care Award, the American Hospital Association (AHA) announced today. The award recognizes hospitals and health systems for their efforts to reduce health care disparities and advance diversity and inclusion to support the goals of the National Call to Action to Eliminate Health Care Disparities, of which the AHA is a founder. Cone Health in Greensboro, N.C.; Rush University Medical Center in Chicago; Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Fla.; and Advocate Health Care in Downers Grove, Ill., will be recognized as honorees. The award will be presented July 27 at the AHA Leadership Summit in San Diego.


“This year’s Equity of Care award winner and honorees offer powerful examples for the rest of the health care field on how to reduce health care disparities and foster diversity and inclusion within their leadership and staff,” said AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack. “Equitable care for all is a goal that hospitals and health systems should strive for each and every day, and these hospitals are helping to lead the way.”


The AHA Equity of Care Award is awarded annually and was created to recognize outstanding efforts among hospitals and health care systems to advance equity of care to all patients and to spread lessons learned and progress toward achieving health equity. The applications from around the country showcased measurable improvement in the performance of equity, diversity and inclusion within the hospital, health system or community and provided clear models for the field.


The 13-person award committee included AHA board member Ramanathan (Ram) Raju, who was the committee chairman, and Rick de Filippi, former chairman of the AHA and Institute for Diversity in Health Management. The applications were sent to all hospitals and health systems that have signed the AHA’s #123forEquity pledge and to all who participated in the 2015 Diversity and Disparities Survey.


Kaiser Permanente’s commitment to equity and inclusion has been linked to its mission of improving the health of its members and the communities it serves since its founding more than 70 years ago. The organization fosters a highly diverse and inclusive culture as a cornerstone of its business strategy as it strives to provide high-quality, affordable and equitable health care for its more than 11.8 million members.

“It is deeply rewarding to be recognized for our dedication to creating equitable health outcomes for all of the populations that our accomplished physicians, nurses, clinicians and staff care for, including groups that have been historically marginalized and excluded,” said Ronald L. Copeland, M.D., Kaiser Permanente’s senior vice president and chief diversity and inclusion officer. “We hope Kaiser Permanente’s achievements in this area provide models for similar improvements across the health care industry.”


Kaiser Permanente implemented the Equitable Care Health Outcomes (ECHO) Program in 2010, focused on implementing clinical and culturally responsive care strategies to close health care disparity gaps in hypertension management for African-Americans and colorectal cancer Screening for Hispanic populations. Moved by the mission of the Executive Leadership Council, Kaiser Permanente’s intentional and deliberate diversification of the boards of directors was advanced by former CEO George C. Halvorson, and has continued under Chairman and CEO Bernard J. Tyson. The organization’s board of directors reflects the diversity of its workforce that in turn reflects the people and communities it serves. Forty-two percent of Kaiser Permanente’s board members are people of color (21 percent African-American, 14 percent Hispanic, and 7 percent Asian), while 36 percent of members are women.


Kaiser Permanente is building on the accomplishments of its Community Health Initiatives, investing $37.1 million in 2016 to fund programs that support healthy eating and active living through environmental and policy changes in more than 50 communities across its regions.


Highlights of the Equity of Care Award honorees’ programs


Cone Health – Greensboro, N.C.

Cone Health Cancer Center completed a 5-year prospective study evaluating novel methods to reduce racial disparity between African-American and white lung cancer patients. Specifically, there was an improvement in African-American completion of treatment from a 64 percent baseline to 96 percent. The white population also benefitted with an increase from 76 percent to 96 percent. Cone Health has also achieved Health Equity Index Leader Status, which is awarded by the Human Rights Campaign, for four consecutive years. Additionally, Cone Health leaders, physicians and staff have worked hard to increase awareness and competencies about LGBT health disparities. Cone Health has developed a culture of appreciating the diversity that exists among leaders, physicians and staff as well as shared accountability to serve the diverse needs of the patients in the community.


Rush University Medical Center – Chicago

Rush University Medical Center has made community health equity a strategic goal and has aligned business operations, population health efforts, diversity and inclusion and community engagement efforts to achieve equity. Rush has initiated an anchor mission initiative focused on hiring locally and creating career pathways, purchasing locally, impact investing locally and volunteering locally create jobs and economic opportunities in the surrounding neighborhoods. Rush as has pledged to increase diversity at the director level and above, and in 2015, executive bonuses were tied to performance on this index. Rush has experienced a 27 percent increase in underrepresented employees in leadership positions and a seven percent increase in underrepresented students. Rush has also convened over fifty community organizations including other hospital systems, community health centers and community based organizations into a multi-sector, multi-partner initiative called the West Side Total health Collaborative whose aim is to improve life expectancy in high hardship neighborhoods around Rush. Rush recently collaborated to develop a social determinant of health screening tool alongside various community partners including Catholic Charities, the Greater Chicago Food Depository, and UI Health to start asking patients about housing, food security, utilities, and access to care. This tool includes referrals to formal partner agencies such as CommunityHealth - the largest free health clinic in Chicago, which provides affordable options to patients regardless of documentation status. Rush physicians and students both volunteer at CommunityHealth and provide care to patients – many who have been unable to access affordable healthcare and medications due to systemic societal failures.


Moffitt Cancer Center – Tampa, Fla.

Moffitt Cancer Center created the Disparities Dashboard that utilizes hospital clinical metrics stratified by race, ethnicity, gender and language preference to identify, monitor and address disparities in patient care outcomes. It is currently informing patient satisfaction and advance directive areas. The Moffitt Program for Outreach Wellness Education and Resources (M-POWER) reaches more than 6,000 people in the Tampa Bay area annually with education and cancer prevention screenings. M-POWER has provided 161 Health Education workshops to the community, connected 542 uninsured women to mammography services, and facilitated access to comprehensive health screenings for 432 uninsured or underinsured men, including prostate and skin cancer screenings.


Advocate Health Care – Downers Grove, Ill.

In 2016, Advocate Health Care started the REaL Data Collection campaign called “We ask because we care.” This initiative eliminated patients’ claims with “Unknown” for race/ethnicity from 8.8 percent to 2.3 percent. Advocate also implemented Project H.E.A.L.T.H. (Healing Effectively after Leaving the Hospital), a transitional care program aimed at improving patient health disparities and utilizing community health workers to work collaboratively with all members of the patient's multidisciplinary care team. The goal is to reduce avoidable readmissions for patients who have asthma, diabetes and sickle cell disease by identifying barriers to recovery for patients discharged to home. Finally, the South Asian Cardiovascular Center at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital is the first center of its kind in the Midwest designed to serve the South Asian community through a unique combination of community outreach, culturally sensitive advanced clinical services and research. South Asians hold a high risk for heart attack and stroke that has often been overlooked. This increased risk is due to variety of factors ranging from genetics to lifestyle choices. The goal of the center is to educate, screen, prevent and treat South Asians for their high risk of cardiac disease.

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 www.aha.org.