Improving Quality and Achieving Equity

The 76-page report, Improving Quality and Achieving Equity: A Guide for Hospital Leaders is structured as a guide for CEOs, high-level managers in hospitals, and other leaders in the fields of safety, finance and risk reduction in hospitals. The report is also meant to be used by anyone working within this industry who feels that leaders in their hospital are not taking sufficient action to address inequities in health care. The final draft of this document was reviewed by a panel of experts in hospital safety and quality.

The introduction to the guide states that the report's main goals are to present the evidence for racial and ethnic disparities in health care and provide the rationale for addressing them; highlight model practices; and recommend a set of activities and resources that can help hospital leaders initiate an agenda for action to reduce these disparities. Chapters are divided into topics such as why disparities need to be addressed; what are the root causes of health disparities; what actions are already being taken to combat disparities; and what resources exist to tackle inequities. Several case studies of equity initiatives that have been undertaken at individual hospitals are detailed, including discussions of what was successful about each initiative and what will be necessary to sustain it.

A strong focus of this report is that medical institutions need to move beyond documenting health disparities to doing something about them. The report recommends specifics steps and strategies that hospitals can use to begin ameliorating racial and ethnic health disparities; although tracking disparities is required in order to address them, it is a necessary but insufficient element. Strategies recommended here include the use of culturally-competent disease management models, bilingual health coaches and navigators, and the implementation of community outreach programs. Lastly, the report emphasizes that addressing health disparities must not be viewed as a subset of delivering quality health care, but as an essential component of delivering quality health care.