Health Equity - The Role of the Hospital

Posted on February 01, 2019

MHA Rounds: Brittany BoganA consistent challenge that many of our member hospitals face is the large, daunting puzzle of ensuring health equity. Healthcare professionals agree that a person's race, ethnicity, gender, income, sexual orientation, neighborhood or other social condition should not play a role in the care they receive. Health equity must be a strategic goal in every hospital and incorporated into all improvement strategies, including quality, patient safety and population health, to improve health outcomes and the patient experience.

As a patient safety and quality organization, the MHA Keystone Center follows the famous framework for improvement put forth by the Institute of Medicine in 2001. This framework states that healthcare organizations commit to quality by ensuring patients receive safe, effective, patient-centered, timely, efficient and equitable care.

Unfortunately, equity continues to be the most frequently overlooked aim. Studies report significant disparities in healthcare outcomes among race, age, language, ethnic and socio-demographic categories. Social determinants of health such as socioeconomic status, access to healthcare, education, and social and community context, all play a major role in creating longstanding disparities.

Health systems and hospitals are often the leaders in their local communities when it comes to improving population health and overcoming disparities. It requires us to commit to meaningful initiatives across three healthcare efforts:

  1. Increase the prevalence of evidence-based preventive health services and health behaviors.

  2. Improve quality of care and patient safety.

  3. Advance care coordination across the healthcare continuum.

For these strategies to be effective, hospitals must incorporate health equity into practice. The health system's role is to identify which disparities are impacting their patient population and then work in partnership with their communities to eliminate them. The MHA’s MiCareMatters campaign has done a great job of highlighting examples of these community partnerships across Michigan.

We have also expanded our ability to reduce disparities through the Great Lakes Partners for Patients (GLPP) Hospital Improvement Innovation Network (HIIN), a partnership among the MHA, the Illinois Health & Hospital Association and the Wisconsin Hospital Association. Together, our mission is to provide resources, offer educational and networking opportunities, and share best practices and lessons learned around four key strategies:

  1. Hospital preparedness to address health disparities through the consistent collection of accurate demographic data.

  2. Use of patient demographic data to identify disparities within each community.

  3. Development of proper interventions to address identified disparities.

  4. Deployment of organizational resources needed to sustain the delivery of equitable care.

I encourage you to take advantage of these resources made available by the GLPP HIIN as you pursue your hospital’s goal of achieving health equity. If we each work to eliminate disparities within our local communities, collectively we will come closer to achieving equity across Michigan and the Great Lakes region.

P.S. Don’t forget to register for our upcoming Health Equity Regional Learning Session from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 12 at the VisTaTech Center – Schoolcraft College, Livonia. The learning session is free, but registration is required.

Brittany Bogan, FACHE, CPPS, is senior vice president of safety & quality, MHA, and executive director of the MHA Keystone Center.


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  • Health Equity - The Role of the Hospital

Tags: MHA Keystone Center, GLPP HIIN, patient safety, health equity, Brittany Bogan

Posted in: MHA Rounds

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