Institute for Healthcare Improvement, AMA lead new cross-stakeholder coalition to improve equity

The Institute for Healthcare Improvement, a nonprofit focused on improving outcomes in healthcare, has announced the launch of a new national coalition on health equity. 

The initiative was unveiled at the annual IHI Forum in Orlando, Florida, which is focused on quality improvement in healthcare. Co-led by IHI and the American Medical Association (AMA), the Rise to Health Coalition consists of nine founding collaborators including the American Hospital Association and Race Forward, a nonprofit dedicated to racial justice.

With today's announcement, the coalition will begin recruiting providers, payers, pharma and biotech organizations and trade groups to join the effort to take specific actions on equity through shared solutions. The goal is to actionably improve outcomes and change the narrative on equity. The Rise to Health Coalition will specifically focus on access, workforce, social determinants of health and quality and safety, according to the organization.

Kedar Mate, M.D., president and CEO of IHI, announced the coalition in a keynote address Tuesday morning. In his speech, he urged healthcare stakeholders to change the way they think about inequities, “to understand them not as inevitabilities, but as things that we can, in fact, improve.” 

“The time has come for a systemwide approach,” Mate said. “The deeply inequitable system that we have is not working for anyone.” Using quality improvement methods, organizations can standardize processes and eliminate disparities, he argued. “By doing this together, we will change the story on equity from one of confusion and competition to one of hope, possibility, collaboration and alignment.” 

Unlike other existing pledges or coalitions around health equity, the Rise to Health Coalition aims to synthesize a national alignment around the same objectives. It will demand its participants demonstrate measurable reductions to the inequities they identify within their organizations, Mate told reporters at a separate briefing. This progress will be tracked by a measurement strategy guided by a steering committee of advisers and will measure impact in each of the four coalition focus impact areas. This framework will also be paired with measurement of the overall reach of the coalition's work alongside an associated evaluation plan funded by Genentech. 

In his speech, Mate called today’s clinical burnout challenges “moral injury,” attributing them not to a lack of resilience but rather to an inability to address social drivers of health that are the upstream causes of illness. 

“Healthcare professionals are more resilient than the overall public, yet despite that resilience, our colleagues were and are experiencing unprecedented rates of burnout,” Mate said. “The fault is baked into our systems.”

Mate was later joined on stage by Aletha Maybank, M.D., chief health equity officer of the AMA, and Glenn Harris, president of coalition collaborator Race Forward. 

IHI Forum announcement
IHI's Kedar Mate, M.D., (left) was joined on stage by the AMA's Aletha Maybank, M.D., and Race Forward's Glenn Harris.  (The Institute for Healthcare Improvement)

The challenge of many existing pledges, Maybank noted, is they operate in silos: “That doesn't offer us the ability to have the impact that we need to have.” Crucially, healthcare stakeholders must set up opportunities for leaders to experience the humanity of and empathy toward others.

“We cannot have solidarity if we don’t have a context of care for one another,” Maybank said. 

“We will keep having this conversation as a nation, as a people, as a community, until we get it right,” Harris concluded.

Formal Rise to Health Coalition activities begin in 2023. Organizations can join at any point in the next two years.