Health Disparities – An Urgent Industry Challenge to Be Addressed
Long-standing approaches to measuring quality of care have masked dramatic and disturbing differences in outcomes on the basis of race and ethnicity, as well as language and sex, which have been revealed and exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite emerging awareness of this issue, to date there has not been a systematic approach to identifying, sizing, and most importantly redressing such disparities. A significant barrier to reducing these disparities is incomplete data collection and failure to regularly review outcomes measures that are stratified by race, ethnicity, language, and sex. Organizations cannot meaningfully improve what they do not measure.
The Health Equity Pledge: A Solution to Strengthen Data Foundations and Build Interventions to Accelerate Health Equity
As a response to this challenge of addressing health disparities, the Health Evolution Forum has launched the Health Equity Pledge to meaningfully strengthen data foundations through the collection, stratification, and review of race, ethnicity, language, and sex data, with the ultimate goal to more effectively identify disparities, diagnose root causes, and instill accountability for eliminating them.
These actions, structured into three Pledge objectives, are a significant opportunity to embed equity into quality improvement and interventions across the health care industry, and to reduce disparities in care delivery, the patient and member experience, and outcomes.
• Collect race, ethnicity, language, and sex data for at least 50% of the organization’s patient, member, or customer population. • Stratify and regularly review these collected data by the top-priority quality or access metric for 90% of major business lines and/or departments/divisions of adequate size. • Participate in the Health Evolution Health Equity Learning Lab by sharing stratified data for select measures to facilitate anonymized benchmarking and to identify best practices for reducing disparities.
A Bold Cross-Industry Initiative to Accelerate Health Equity
The Health Equity Pledge resonates across the health care system to make progress in this critical area of work. Over 50+ Pledge signatories represent a cross-section of leading health care organizations and individuals committed to driving progress towards greater equity in care delivery, the patient and member experience, and outcomes. Their commitment drives this effort to address disparities at the industry level.
The Health Evolution Forum will continue to convene executive leadership and subject matter experts to support organizations in adopting and implementing the Pledge. One such supporting resource is the Health Equity Roadmap: Part I – a cross-sector guide for CEOs that are seeking to develop an effective and data-driven enterprise-wide strategy to advance health equity and achieve the objectives of the Pledge by leading their organizations through the levels of the Health Equity Pyramid.