Hospitals better on equitable care, but room for improvement

Hospitals made progress in equitable care in 2013, but work still remains, especially in leader diversity, according to a new survey from the American Hospital Association's Institute for Diversity in Health Management (IFD).

Hospitals stepped up its efforts to collect patient demographic information, with 97 percent collecting data on race, 94 percent on ethnicity and 95 percent on primary language, according to the survey. Nearly one-quarter of hospitals used such data to look for outcome or treatment disparities across racial or ethnic lines, a 20 percent increase from 2011.

Cultural competency training also increased from 2011, the survey found. Eighty-six percent of hospitals train clinical staff to address cultural and linguistic differences during orientation, up from 81 percent from 2011. Nearly 65 percent of hospitals require diversity training, up from 60.5 percent in 2011, according to the survey.

However, the survey found that hospital leadership is not keeping pace with the growth of minority patients, who represent 31 percent of patients nationwide, up from 29 percent in 2011. Minorities only comprise 14 percent of hospital board members and 12 percent of executive leadership positions--the same amount as in 2011--although minorities in first- and mid-level management positions increased slightly, from 15 percent in 2011 to 17 percent this year, according to the survey.

"We are indeed making some progress, but when we look at the numbers, we ask, 'Why is it going so slowly?'" Richard de Filippi, chair of the IFD board, said last week at the IFD's National Leadership and Education Conference, according to Hospitals & Health Networks Daily.

Ultimately, added IFD President and CEO Fred Hobby, the conversation must move beyond diversity in management to focus on ensuring equitable care.

The IFD's 2012 report indicated similarly steady but slow progress in terms of diversity, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

To learn more:
- read the report (.pdf)
- here's the H&HN article