We in health care have known for a long time that different groups of people have different levels of health. The data has long been available, showing us that inequality persists in many areas, including race, ethnicity, age, language, health literacy and sexual orientation.
The pursuit of equity of care is happening on many fronts and begins with being able to identify the population we serve. One of the first challenges is in standardizing the collection of REAL data: race, ethnicity, age and language. Good data will help us do good analysis and improve care. It seems obvious, but the fact is that both patients and providers are sometimes uncomfortable talking about race, ethnicity and language, so the right information isn’t always collected in the right way. Having that information about patients is critical to understanding variations in care and preventing disparities.
Collection of REAL data is not enough. Hospitals must be committed to recognizing and reducing disparities. As a sign of this commitment, WSHA is recommending that all hospitals in Washington accept and act on the American Hospital Association (AHA) #123 for Equity pledge.
For more information about the AHA’s Equity of Care work, as well as resources for hospitals, visit www.equityofcare.org/.
Hospitals and health systems all over the country are working to make sure that everyone gets the same kind of high-quality care.
Tools and Resources
A Practitioner’s Guide for Advancing Health Equity: Community Strategies for Preventing Chronic Disease – a PDF document made by CDC, with suggestions for health equity that start in the community.
Equity of Care – The American Hospital Association’s health care equity website.
#123forEquity: A Toolkit for Achieving Success and Sharing Your Story – a PDF document made by the AHA, the toolkit contains educational as well as practical resources.
Equity of Care: A Toolkit for Eliminating Health Care Disparities – a PDF toolkit published by the Health Research and Education Trust for eliminating health care disparities.
CMS Health Disparities Guide – a PDF document from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services with a basic framework for addressing disparities, and a resource guide for more information.
Roadmap to Reduce Disparities – a link to the Solving Disparities Roadmap to Reduce Disparities, a six-step framework for health care organizations to improve minority health and foster equity.
Preventing Readmissions Among Racially and Ethnically Diverse Patients – a PDF document from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
What is Health Equity – The Boston Public Health Commission website explaining health disparities and health equity versus equality.
Race, Ethnicity, Language Data Collection Best Practices – a PDF document published by the Greater Cincinnati Health Council with validated guidelines to improve data collection.