AMA, Brigham and Women's, Joint Commission's new peer network helps health systems embed equity in care

The American Medical Association (AMA), Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Joint Commission have launched a new network designed to teach health systems how to better incorporate racial justice equity into their quality and safety practices.

Announced Thursday, the so-called Advancing Equity through Quality and Safety Peer Network is a one-year mentorship and networking program that will be piloted by eight hospitals and health systems including the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

“For the past two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed systemic inequities in the quality and safety of the patient care experience—including gaps in interpretation services, telemedicine access and crisis standards of care,” AMA President Gerald E. Harmon, M.D., said in a statement “Through collaborations like the Peer Network, the AMA continues its work to remove the social and structural factors that interfere with patient-centered care—providing health systems with guidance to inform equitable solutions, dismantle inequities and improve health outcomes for our patients from historically marginalized communities.”

The program uses a framework designed by Brigham and Women’s and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement in which the systems will participate in individual consultations and group learning sessions. These will be headed by an 11-person panel of experts specializing in quality and safety; population and community health; and diversity, equity and inclusion.

According to the announcement and the program’s informational webpage, these meetings will teach the participants patient-centered strategies for “systematically identifying and addressing root causes of inequities via an integrated approach to quality, safety, equity and operations.”  

The full list of early adopter organizations includes Atlantic Medical Group/Atlantic Health, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics, Ochsner Medical Center, the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and University of Wisconsin Hospitals & Clinics.

The founding groups described the program as in its first phase but did not specify if or when it would be open to more participants.

“Every patient deserves the right to safe, equitable healthcare,” Joint Commission President and CEO Jonathan B. Perlin, M.D., said in a statement. “All healthcare organizations have a responsibility to identify and address the disparities that their unique patient populations face. We look forward to working with others in the Peer Network in implementing sustainable solutions for equitable excellence in healthcare.”

AMA said the program is a key part of a three-year strategic plan to integrate clinical and social care alongside medicine and public health, which the organization unveiled roughly this time last year.

In late March, the American Hospital Association also launched its own Health Equity Roadmap, which includes assessments and tailored action plans for member hospitals and health systems seeking additional resources on advancing equity and racial justice.