The hard truth is that disparities in health care persist, and addressing them is no longer just about morality, ethics and social justice. It is essential for performance excellence and improved community health. And designing and executing a plan to end disparities is everyone's business.

Five health care groups including the American Hospital Association have issued a call to action to eliminate disparities. The Equity of Care initiative ( was launched to help share information and best practices. As part of that effort, the AHA Center for Healthcare Governance has produced two webinars for hospital trustees. The first, featuring Rick de Filippi, chair of the AHA Equity of Care committee and a trustee of the Cambridge (Mass.) Health Alliance Foundation, and John Combes, M.D., Center president and chief operating officer, examines findings from "Diversity & Disparities: A Benchmark Study of U.S. Hospitals." The results offer some common strategies used to improve the quality of care that hospitals provide to all patients, regardless of race or ethnicity.

The second webinar, featuring Combes and John Bluford, president and CEO of Truman Medical Centers in Kansas City, Mo., focuses on the importance of diversity among hospital boards and leaders. Combes and Bluford review using the Hospital Trustee Professionalism Program to promote greater diversity and improve governance. They also highlight how diversity and diverse perspectives can improve a hospital's service to its community. Both sessions include strategic planning questions regarding diversity, a board action checklist and sources for additional information.

The webinars can be accessed at Each 20–30 minute webinar can be used as in-boardroom education by boards or committees. I encourage you to view these presentations and consider using them with your board to drive the conversation about how your organization can answer the national call to action.

Katherine Keene ( is COG chair and a trustee of Salem (Ore.) Hospital.