To meet the changing needs of our communities, hospitals are working hard to make sure that every individual receives the highest quality of care. To achieve that goal as our nation becomes increasingly diverse, we must redouble our efforts to identify and eliminate disparities in care.

That’s why the American Hospital Association recently launched the #123forEquity Pledge to Act Campaign. It builds on the National Call to Action to Eliminate Health Care Disparities launched in 2011 by the AHA, the American College of Healthcare Executives, the Association of American Medical Colleges, the Catholic Health Association of the United States and America’s Essential Hospitals.

The campaign focuses on three areas the groups believe provide the greatest opportunities for hospitals to increase the equity of the care they provide: increase the collection and use of race, ethnicity and language preference data; increase cultural competency training; and increase diversity in leadership and governance.

The #123forEquity Pledge to Act Campaign asks every hospital to commit to the following:

First, sign the pledge. Pledge to achieve the three areas of the national call to action within the next 12 months.

Second, take action. Implement strategies that are reflected in your strategic plan and supported by your board and leadership. Provide quarterly updates on progress to the AHA and your board to track progress nationally.

Third, tell others. Achieve the goals and be recognized. Tell your story and share what you’ve learned with others through conference calls and other educational venues, including social media, to accelerate progress collectively.

The AHA announced the #123forEquity Pledge to Act Campaign at the Health Forum and AHA Leadership Summit in July. More than 700 hospitals already have signed the pledge. In addition, a number of partner organizations have endorsed the campaign.

Is your hospital on the list? You can check at www.equityofcare.org/pledge/pledging.shtml, where hospitals that have made the pledge are listed by state.

If not, talk to your CEO and board about reviewing your equity initiatives and taking the pledge. Addressing disparities is no longer just about morality, ethics and social justice: It is essential for performance excellence and improved community health. You cannot afford not to tackle this issue head-on. Hospitals as a field have made progress, but more needs to be done, and quickly.

More about the #123forEquity Pledge to Act Campaign can be found at www.equityofcare.org.

To learn more, or for questions, contact (312) 422-2630.

Fred Gattas Jr. (fpgattas@gmail.com), is COG chair and a trustee of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.