Leadership Corner: Eliminating Disparities to Advance Health Equity and Improve Quality

MHA Keystone Center Leadership Corner

The Leadership Corner features updates from the MHA leadership team. The updates will provide new insights to safety and quality, as well as updates on MHA Keystone Center activities and initiatives.

Brittany Bogan, FACHE, CPPS, senior vice president of safety and quality, MHA, and executive director of the MHA Keystone CenterBrittany Bogan, FACHE, CPPS, senior vice president of safety and quality, MHA, and executive director of the MHA Keystone Center, urges healthcare organizations to prioritize and act on addressing health disparities using a newly released guide.

Disparities remain a prevalent and persistent issue across the healthcare continuum, as we have seen demonstrated historically and with the recent COVID-19 pandemic. The importance of a wide range of demographic and socioeconomic conditions must be understood and addressed to eliminate disparities and achieve equity. Healthcare leaders are the cornerstone for influencing change within their organizations. I urge each leader to ask themselves the following questions to prompt activity to address disparities and advance equity:

How can I identify the health disparities that exist in my community?

What can I do to prevent disparities that exist in our patient outcomes?

How can I create a culture and system that reduces disparities to improve quality, save lives and reduce cost?

The questions are derived from the MHA Keystone Center’s recently published guide, Eliminating Disparities to Advance Health Equity and Improve Quality, designed to provide practical guidance for healthcare organizations seeking to eliminate disparities in care to advance health equity.

Organizations are encouraged to use the guide to evaluate their current level of implementation of key strategies to reduce disparities and improve quality for better patient outcomes. This resource will guide organizations to prioritize and act on identified gaps so that thoughtful and focused actions transpire to ensure that the outcomes across all patient populations are equitable.

The guide states that diversity and inclusion are fundamental building blocks for cultural competency that celebrate the differences between individuals by bringing them together. Once organizations understand their communities’ makeup through consistent data collection, they must evaluate whether their providers and leadership reflect that community. When a gap is identified, healthcare systems should develop strategic efforts and programs to recruit and retain a diverse workforce that reflects their patients’ backgrounds and needs. In short, we must ensure that health equity is a leadership-driven priority that aligns with the organization’s mission and vision.

The MHA Keystone Center has long been committed to addressing health disparities, a foundational concept that shapes all the organization’s quality improvement and safety efforts.

I challenge and encourage your organization to be a pioneer in the movement towards achieving health equity for all populations. Please know that the MHA Keystone Center is available to support you every step of the way. 

Please view the MHA website for additional MHA Keystone Center quality improvement projects and future cohorts of the Age-Friendly Health Systems Action Community.