Closing the Gap

Although the quality of health care is poor for many Americans, some specific racial and ethnic groups continue to experience lower-quality health care when compared to White patients. Even when access to care is equal, research consistently shows this to be true. Convincing evidence of these disparities can be seen in cardiovascular care where, for example, Black patients with coronary artery disease or heart attacks are significantly less likely than White patients to receive appropriate procedures or therapies.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) has made addressing racial and ethnic disparities an integral part of Aligning Forces for Quality (AF4Q), its signature program to lift the overall quality of health care in targeted communities and provide real models for reform.

This issue brief presents findings collected over 18 months from eight hospitals that participated in a “learning collaborative” to test strategies, quantify results and share lessons learned. This network was comprised of hospitals interested in improving the quality of care delivered to patients with acute myocardial infarction and heart failure, while also reducing racial and ethnic disparities in care. Hospitals participating in this collaborative identified and implemented interventions suited to the needs of their particular institutions.