Christus Health, Irving, Texas, is among the earliest to adopt the #123forEquity Pledge to Act, part of an effort to increase diversity in hospital management and on boards. It was produced by the American Hospital Association’s Institute for Diversity in Health Management.

“Providing equitable care is inextricably linked to advancing the Triple Aim goals of providing better care, smarter spending and a better experience,” says Eugene Woods, president and chief operating officer of Christus Health. The pledge has set 20 percent minority representation in governance and 17 percent in leadership as a goal for hospitals to reach by the year 2020. Christus already has reached or surpassed both goals.

“As a top priority for the association, the board and myself personally, the issue of equity is important for two main reasons,” says Rick Pollack, AHA president and CEO. “First, it is the right thing to do. As a society, we need to be sensitive to the need for diversity and inclusion. And, as our demographics change, our organizations need to change as well, to be reflective of those demographics.

“Second, it’s the smart thing to do. Better care is dependent on less health care disparity. You cannot succeed on value-based payments if you do not improve in this area. From the patients’ perceptions of the health system to their judgment of the care experience, those value-based measures will affect payments.”

Woods, who sits on the AHA board, couldn’t agree more. “To provide better care, we must solve the problem of racial and ethnic minorities’ receiving lower-quality health care than nonminorities,” Woods says. “With respect to smarter spending, eliminating disparity is one of the biggest levers we have to decreasing per capita costs. Finally, providing a better experience for patients with different language preferences and from many different ethnicities and races requires that we become more culturally competent.”

The AHA has partnered with a number of organizations in the Equity of Care initiative, including the American College of Healthcare Executives, the American Association of Medical Colleges, the Catholic Health Association, among others. Many state hospital associations already have signed up as well. Jon Asplund

As simple as ...

The #123forEquity Pledge to Act launched at the end of July with an ambitious goal of signing up 1,000 hospitals by year’s end. The pledge entails:

1. Taking the pledge: Hospitals pledge to achieve the three areas of the National Call to Action within the next 12 months. Those three areas are:

• Increasing the collection and use of race, ethnicity and language preference data;

• Increasing cultural competency training;

• Increasing diversity in governance and leadership.

2. Taking action: Hospitals would implement strategies that are reflected in its strategic plan and supported by your board and leadership. They also would provide quarterly updates on progress to the AHA and your board to track progress nationally.

3. Telling others: As hospitals achieve the goals, they would be recognized and be an important part of the discussion. Hospital leaders would tell their stories and share learnings with others in conference calls and other educational venues, including social media, to accelerate progress collectively.