Pinpointing why disparities in health care occur and eliminating them should be a priority in every setting — physician offices, hospitals, specialty clinics and all the rest. The task is not easy. It takes time, information, resources, leadership from the top, partnerships with others in the community and a sustained commitment. But the results measured in quality, patient safety, community trust and health are worth the effort.
That is why the American Hospital Association has joined four other national health care organizations — the Association of American Medical Colleges, American College of Healthcare Executives, Catholic Health Association of the United States, and National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems — to form Equity of Care, an initiative to eliminate disparities that provides the latest resources, case studies and guides.
The group recently released its first case study guide. It looks at nine hospitals and health systems and summarizes each organization's key successes toward achieving one of the group's three goals: increasing the collection of race, ethnicity and language preference data to facilitate its increased use; increasing cultural competency training for clinicians and support staff; and increasing diversity in governance and management. The case examples offer a snapshot of some best practices and lessons learned for other hospitals and systems working to make improvements.
The group also revamped its website, www.equityofcare.org, to make it easier for visitors to find the latest resources. It also now includes commentaries by leading voices in the field. Initial contributors include AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock and Catholic Health Initiatives President and CEO Kevin Lofton.
In addition, the AHA's Health Research & Educational Trust recently updated its Disparities Toolkit. This free tool provides information and resources to help health care organizations implement a framework for collecting data on patients' race, ethnicity, primary language, gender and disability for quality improvement efforts, especially those related to equity of care.
Visit www.hretdisparities.org for more information.
Kimberly McNally, R.N., M.N. (email@example.com), is COG chair and a trustee of Harborview Medical Center/UW Medicine in Seattle.