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Association Equity Panel Issues Recommendations to Reduce Disparities


Thought leaders convened by America’s Essential Hospitals say that to improve health care equity, hospitals should stratify quality measures and patient experience data by socioeconomic and other characteristics, and reduce language barriers.

The association issued a report today from its Equity Leadership Forum, which examined approaches to reducing health care disparities. The panel, convened last fall, includes representatives of member hospitals; association staff; and stakeholders from hospital, academic, quality improvement, and government-sponsored organizations.

“To reduce care disparities, we must fully understand the social, cultural, and other barriers our patients face – and put quality measures in that context,” said association President and CEO Bruce Siegel, MD, MPH. “The Equity Leadership Forum’s recommendations offer a promising path toward more equitable care.”

In the first of two overarching Forum recommendations, the panel’s data subcommittee said hospitals should stratify clinical quality and patient experience data by race, ethnicity, language, gender, disability status, and socioeconomic status to reveal disparities. Hospitals then should create an action plan based on those findings.

A second recommendation reflects work by a Forum subcommittee on language access, which said efforts to improve access should align with a federal plan to move the legal standard for interpreters in health care organizations from “competent” to “qualified” to reduce the risk of medical errors. The subcommittee also proposed several metrics for improving language access, including these:

  • identification of participants’ need for language services
  • leadership training and orientation programs for administrative and clinical leaders
  • patient engagement in language access services and translated documents
  • stratification of performance data by language to determine disparities
  • use of the most appropriate individuals for interpretation

America’s Essential Hospitals has shared the Forum’s report with The Joint Commission for consideration in that organization’s standards-setting process. The Joint Commission participated in the report’s development and served as an adviser.

“We believe essential hospitals have made significant inroads in the fight against disparities,” said David Engler, PhD, senior vice president of leadership and innovation for America’s Essential Hospitals. “The Forum’s recommendations can help us narrow the equity gap further for low-income and other vulnerable patients.”

Equity Leadership Forum Members

  • Anthony Armada, MHA, MBA, CEO, Swedish Health Services
  • David Baker, MD, MPH, Executive Vice President for Health Care Quality Evaluation, The Joint Commission
  • Marshall Chin, MD, MPH, Richard Parrillo Family Professor of Healthcare Ethics in the Department of Medicine, University of Chicago
  • David Engler, PhD, Senior Vice President for Leadership and Innovation, America’s Essential Hospitals
  • Don Goldmann, MD, Chief Medical and Scientific Officer, Institute for Healthcare Improvement
  • Maryellen Guinan, JD, Policy Analyst, America’s Essential Hospitals
  • Romana Hasnain-Wynia, MS, PhD, Director, Addressing Disparities, Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute
  • Tomas Leon, MBA, President and CEO, Institute for Diversity in Health Management, American Hospital Association
  • Ana Pujols-McKee, MD, Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, The Joint Commission
  • Anna Roth, RN, MS, MPH, CEO, Contra Costa Regional Medical Center & Health Centers
  • Bruce Siegel, MD, MPH, President and CEO, America’s Essential Hospitals
  • Nicholas Tejeda, CEO, The Hospitals of Providence – East Campus
  • Kimberlydawn Wisdom, MD, MS, Senior Vice President, Community Health & Equity, Chief Wellness & Diversity Officer, Henry Ford Health System
  • Eugene Woods, MHA, MBA, President and Chief Operating Officer, Christus Health
  • Ron Wyatt, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Health Improvement, Office of the Chief Medical Officer, The Joint Commission
  • Clyde Yancy, MD, Vice Dean for Diversity and Inclusion, Chief, Division of Medicine-Cardiology, Northwestern University

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About America’s Essential Hospitals

America’s Essential Hospitals is the leading association and champion for hospitals and health systems dedicated to high-quality care for all, including the most vulnerable. Since 1981, America’s Essential Hospitals has initiated, advanced, and preserved programs and policies that help these hospitals ensure access to care. We support members with advocacy, policy development, research, and education.

Our 275 members are vital to their communities, providing primary care through trauma care, disaster response, health professional training, research, public health programs, and other services. They innovate and adapt to lead the broader health care community toward more effective and efficient care. Learn more at

Carl Graziano


About the Author

Graziano is senior director of communications for America's Essential Hospitals.

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