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The premier resource for hospital professionals from Relias Media, the trusted source for healthcare information and continuing education.

AHA to hospitals on diversity: You’re doing a good job… sort of

Most of you are collecting data on your patients’ race, ethnicity, and primary language. Great! But don’t pat yourself on the back too quickly. Only 22% of you are using that data to identify where you have disparities in care between racial/ethnic groups or to analyze measures such as readmissions.

This news comes from a 2013 survey from the American Hospital Association’s (AHA’s) Institute for Diversity in Health Management and Health Research & Educational Trust. Why should you be concerned? Analyzing your quality data by your demographic data can help you improve clinical quality, reduce readmissions, and eliminate disparities, according to the AHA.

Here are some more survey results:

  • Most hospitals (86%) educate all clinical staff during orientation about how to address the cultural and linguistic factors that affect care of diverse patients and communities.
  • Most hospitals (86%) educate all clinical staff during orientation about how to address the cultural and linguistic factors that affect care of diverse patients and communities.
  • Most hospitals (65%) require all employees to attend diversity training.
  • While minorities represent 31% of hospital patients nationally, only 14% of hospital board members and 12% of executive leadership were minorities.(For our blog on this topic, see “Forget the Color of your Parachute – What Color is your Administrative Floor?”)
  • Half of hospitals are funding initiatives that address sustainable diversity and cultural competency.
  • More than half (58%) of hospitals have a program to identify diverse candidates for promotion opportunities.
  • Most (78%) collaborate with other healthcare organizations to improve workforce training and educational programs in the community.
To read the report, Diversity and Disparities: A Benchmark Study of U.S. Hospitals in 2013, click here.

Cincinnati has a success story to share. The Cincinnati Expecting Success project includes more than 20 hospitals and community organizations. The Greater Cincinnati Health Council is facilitating the project. The goal is to provide better, more equitable care and close gaps in care disparities. It focuses on collecting race, ethnicity, and primary language (REAL) data from all patients and standardizing data collection methods across the hospitals. The community organizations endorse the hospitals’ work and reassure patients who are concerned about their data being collected. Hospitals use the data to stratify quality measures. This effort will help them identify their challenges and develop interventions. The Equity of Care website highlights the project in the video Race, Ethnicity, Language: Pathway to Better Patient Care. Separate chapters of the video are featured on the website as well as the full video. Equity of Care is a national call to action led by the AHA and other organizations to eliminate healthcare disparities and improve quality of care. Visit the EOC website for resources including toolkits, videos, and presentations from several organizations. Visit the Hospitals in Pursuit of Excellence website at for case studies, tools, and other resources. Enter “equity” in the search box.

With all of these resources and case studies available, change is not out of reach. What can your hospital do today to address healthcare disparities?