Health Equity

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What is Health Equity?

Equitable care does not vary in quality because of personal characteristics such as gender identity, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, preferred language, geographic location or socioeconomic status. Quality care cannot be achieved without equity.

Despite decades of evidence showing persistent health disparities impacting populations made vulnerable by racism and discrimination, progress is slow to close the gaps.  Quality initiatives measuring only outcomes of general populations may conceal widening gaps in care or disparate outcomes of marginalized groups. Focused efforts are needed to uncover health disparities within health systems, train staff to better understand root causes of inequities in healthcare and partner with communities to address social needs.

In 2021, 30 hospital and health system teams across WA and OR, representing over 50 sites of care, enrolled in the WSHA Health Equity Collaborative. They participated for 18-months in an “all teach, all learn” collaborative including the implementation of three 90-day implementation sprints. Sprint goals included improving effective language access services, collecting patient self-reported race and ethnicity data, promoting use of pronouns, designing health equity dashboards, screening and addressing health-related social needs and other foundational components of delivering equitable care. The Health Equity Collaborative concluded in Dec, 2022.

Getting Started

WSHA Health Equity Workgroups

Beginning in 2023, WSHA will launch three new Health Equity Workgroups. Participants in the workgroups commit to action that advances health justice for marginalized populations of WA state. Washington hospitals and health system members are invited to enroll using this signup link.

Each workgroup is topic-specific and aims to both support internal transformation efforts and set collective goals to achieve together:

Gender-Affirming Care Workgroup

Goal: To empower WA hospitals to provide safe respectful environments and care experiences for gender diverse and LGBT patients.

Equity Measures and Data Analytics Workgroup

Goal: To identify or design measures to inform health equity and disparities reduction action plans.

Social Determinants of Heath Workgroup

Goal: Improve efforts within WA hospitals to universally screen for core health-related social needs (housing, transportation, food, utilities and interpersonal violence) and develop workflows to address or connect patients to needed community services.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Roundtable

WSHA is working to identify WA hospital and healthcare professionals leading diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) activities. This may include Health Equity Officers, DEI Directors/Coordinators/Managers, HEDI Committee Chairs at your health system and local facilities. To receive invitations to DEI related events hosted by WSHA, please complete the contact form.

DEI leaders are invited to meet with peers to discuss strategies and promising practices for creating inclusive environments for staff and patients and increasing health equity in WA state. The convening forum, titled DEI Roundtables, will take place virtually every other month.  Each session will focus on a topic, the session in January will focus on policy review with an equity lens.  Registration is restricted to our WA member hospitals and contracted out of state partners

Tools and Resources

Hospital Reporting of Demographic Data – WSHA webpage dedicated to sharing recommendations and resources to support WA hospitals collecting and submitting detailed patient self-reported demographics

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.

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.

A Guide to Reducing Disparities in Readmissions – a PDF document, this guide provides clear, concise, practical, and actionable recommendations for hospital leaders focused on health care quality, safety, and redesign.

National LGBTQIA+ Health Education Center, A Program of the Fenway Institute – Education and training on collection of sexual orientation and gender identity data, as well as health topics for supporting gender diverse and LGBTQ patients.

The Do No Harm Project, Urban Institute – The Do No Harm Guide body of work consists of several guides for how researchers and analysts can approach their work through a lens of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Bree Collaborative Recommendations on Social Determinants of Health – a PDF document detailing a framework, checklists and tools for screening and referring patients with health-related social needs.


Contact Us

Washington State Hospital Association
999 Third Avenue
Suite 1400
Seattle, WA 98104

Map / Directions

206.281.7211 phone
206.283.6122 fax

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