4 ways hospital leaders can advance health equality

Healthcare leaders play a huge role in advancing quality care and health equity for diverse populations, according to an H&HN Daily post.

Success, however, requires leaders to recognize they aren't experts in this area and must collaborate on ideas to build accountability with minority and under-resourced communities, write Edward L. Martinez, 2013 chair of the board of directors of the American Hospital Association (AHA) Institute for Diversity in Health Management, Frederick D. Hobby, president and CEO of the AHA Institute for Diversity in Health Management, and Robert C. Like, M.D., director of the Center for Healthy Families and Cultural Diversity at the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, part of Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Brunswick, N.J.

"Achieving healthcare equity is both a challenge and an opportunity for any organization," they write. "Barriers clearly exist in the form of constrained budgets, insufficient staffing, technology gaps and the absence of patient data needed to address disparities."

But for leaders who are committed to serving their communities, the authors point to an abundance of research, practices, model strategies and training resources, such as Massachusetts General Hospital's "Improving Quality and Achieving Equity: A Guide for Hospital Leaders." They also recommend a four-pronged strategic approach to achieve equity:

1.  Engage the community. Healthcare leaders must interact with all segments of the community and get their feedback when developing policies.

2.  Make sure the C-suite is diverse. In order to get different perspectives and respond to the needs of all populations, the authors say it's important that the organization has a diverse leadership team and governance body.

3. Recruit and train a diverse workforce. Leaders must strengthen their workforce with a human resources program that focuses on cultural competency and eliminates healthcare disparities.

4. Use evidence-based care measures to develop services. Organizations must have the ability to communicate with patients and families in their own languages. Furthermore, the authors write, hospital must set up standardized data collections and measures of care to understand and eliminate disparities in healthcare.

To learn more:
- read the H&HN article