IHI Releases Health Equity Guide for Health Care Organizations

From the article on Business Wire:

The Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) aims to ignite new thinking and activity by the nation’s hospitals and health systems to address the ongoing, decades-long reality of disparities and inequities in health and health care. With the publication of a new white paper – Achieving Health Equity: A Guide for Health Care Organizations – IHI identifies numerous strategies health care systems can adopt to address equity in their communities, as well as in the access, treatments, and outcomes of health care. The white paper also describes how the time-tested tools of quality improvement can accelerate the elimination of inequities by race, ethnicity, gender, age, disability, and more.

IHI’s new white paper is grounded in the belief that one of the most significant ways to improve health and health care in the US is to focus on equity. Organizations can more effectively pursue the Triple Aim of better care, better health, and lower per capita costs if equity is central to these ambitions.

According to lead author, Ronald Wyatt, MD, MHA, Patient Safety Officer and Medical Director, Office of Quality and Patient Safety, The Joint Commission, for too long equity has been the “forgotten aim” in the quality improvement movement, even though it was identified as a key priority by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in 2001. Dr. Wyatt states: “The data clearly show that inequities exist, and we believe that armed with the tools and guidance in this white paper, health care leaders have ways to elevate equity as a strategic priority in their organizations and to take immediate action to improve health equity at the point of care and in the community. Together, we can reduce unjust, costly, and persistent inequities in health and health care across our nation.”

Designed to be actionable with numerous starting points, the white paper includes a 5-part framework for health care organizations to improve health equity in the communities they serve, a list of key considerations when measuring health equity, a case study of Henry Ford Health System, and a self-assessment tool for health care organizations to evaluate their current state related to each component of the framework.

Derek Feeley, IHI CEO, remarks in the foreword to the white paper that no matter where a health care organization decides to put its energy, improving health equity requires a fundamentally new outlook on the work ahead. He states that the framework urges organizations to “work both within our walls, dismantling the institutional racism and implicit biases that hold us back; and beyond our walls, creating and nurturing new partnerships in our communities that can make an impact on all the social determinants of health.” Feeley adds, “Improving only what we’re doing now isn’t enough; real improvement will require broadening and deepening our connections to our patients, our staff, and our communities.”

Read the full article.

Access the white paper.