AHA’s Equity of Care Award

The AHA’s Equity of Care Award is presented annually to hospitals or care systems that are noteworthy leaders and examples to the field in the area of equitable care. Honorees demonstrate a high level of success in reducing health care disparities and promote diversity in leadership and staff within their organization.

The goals of this award are:

  • Recognize outstanding efforts among hospitals and care systems to advance equity of care to all patients;
  • Accelerate progress of the National Call to Action to Eliminate Health Care Disparities and its stated goals and milestones; and
  • Spread lessons learned and progress toward health care equity and the promotion of diversity.

To be considered for the award hospitals must:

  • Complete an application describing their efforts to provide equitable care;
  • Participate in the Institute for Diversity in Health Management’s (Institute) most recent diversity and disparities benchmarking survey; and
  • Sign on to the AHA’s #123forEquity Pledge to Act Campaign.

The AHA will formally recognize the 2016 Equity of Care Award winner and four honorees at the Health Forum/AHA Leadership Summit, July 18, in San Diego. Recently, the Institute also named 20 hospital ‘champions’ who reported significant progress in promoting diversity, inclusion and health equity through their responses to the current benchmarking survey. To learn more about those honors, please visit www.diversityconnection.org.

The Institute is an AHA affiliate.

2016 Award Winner: Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland Clinic has demonstrated a sustained commitment to the National Call to Action and the AHA’s #123forEquity campaign. It has developed innovative programs and resources that have helped the health system increase the collection and use of race, ethnicity, language preference and other demographic data; cultural competency training; and diversity at the governance and leadership levels. In its effort to create an inclusive organization, Cleveland Clinic has instituted online and instructor-led trainings to increase cultural competence for patient care and improve caregiver interaction, engagement, and management skills; implemented  several pipeline development programs that foster the continuing education of minority talent into health care; and established 11 Employee Resource Groups, including ClinicPride, Interfaith, and Military Veterans, and 19 location-based Diversity Councils that provide strategic programming to raise awareness about health disparities, address the health care and wellness needs of its diverse patient population and offer caregivers the opportunity to further develop their cultural competence skill set. 

2016 Award Honoree: The MetroHealth System– Cleveland

In 2015, The MetroHealth System continued to address equity of care from a system-level, engaging many stakeholders in the effort. Training and development, fostering cultural competence, leadership engagement, language access services, and the data collection and integrity initiative (race, ethnicity and language) were all a part of MetroHealth’s focus for delivering equitable care. For instance, all of MetroHealth’s 6,960 staff completed an inclusion and diversity online module, which highlighted how the health system defines inclusion, diversity, cultural competence and what it looks like in practice. The online module was followed by in-person training and orientation for new employees and caregivers. MetroHealth has undertaken many efforts, including training and mentoring programs, which have led to increased diversity in its leadership and governance. The health system also implemented “Leadership Diversity Dashboards” that are presented to leaders to create awareness, discuss challenges and share resources on building a diverse team and inclusive culture. Last year, the dashboards focused on race and gender, and this year they will highlight additional dimensions of diversity. 

2016 Award Honoree: Navicent Health – Macon, Ga. 
Navicent Health collects 100 percent of each patient’s race, ethnicity, gender and primary language information, and it has partnered with Mercer University to publish peer reviewed articles to identify health disparities. These studies have proposed effective interventions to reduce disparities, and the organization has implemented the strategies, leading to improved patient care. In addition, Navicent Health has taken a number of steps that have led to increasing the diversity of its leadership team by 15 percent since 2012. The organization also has created an Equity of Care Oversight Committee to focus internal attention on health disparities.

2016 Award Honoree: CHRISTUS Health – Irving, Texas

For the past five years, CHRISTUS Health has worked to ensure that diversity at the leadership and governance ranks in gender, race and ethnicity are more representative of the communities it serves. It is continuing those efforts by having a “culture of health equity, diversity and inclusion” as one of its pillars of its “Compass 2020” strategic direction. By stratifying its utilization data by race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, geographic location and language preference and combining it with community data, CHRISTUS Health is building a culture responsive to data which informs its investments to impact population health. The organization has worked with community partners on innovative programs that are designed to engage the community by specifically targeting its most vulnerable members.

2016 Award Honoree: West Tennessee Healthcare – Jackson, Tenn.

West Tennessee Healthcare created a Diversity and Cultural Competency Task Team in 2014 that includes a physician, nurses, department directors and senior executive management among others to help in the collection and use of race, ethnicity and language preference data. The organization uses the data to improve outcomes and to develop strategies to assist in improving health outcomes. In addition, the hospital works with community partners in a 17-county service area on efforts to eliminate health disparities. Some of these efforts include working with churches on various initiatives, hosting community health expos in underserved communities and providing medications for individuals without health insurance.

2015 Award Winner: Henry Ford Health System

Henry Ford Health System in Detroit collects demographic data from more than 90 percent of its patients and embeds that data into Equity Dashboards that are part of the overall quality and service metrics tracked by all business units to spur interventions in areas like diabetes outcomes among African American patients. HFHS uses cultural competency as an ongoing training for employees and clinicians to provide high-quality care. Using Employee Resource Groups, a Healthcare Equity Scholars Program and resident training, HFHS is continually evolving and improving its approach. HFHS also is dedicated to diversity through the use of a candidate pool that reflects set goals for minorities and women. Its efforts have been rewarded with a 57 percent increase in minorities in top leadership levels and a 44 percent increase in females in top leadership levels from 2009 to 2014.

2015 Award Winner: Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital

Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital located in New Brunswick, N.J., is committed to addressing health inequities through its REAL Data Integrity LEAN Six Sigma Project. RWJ’s focus on clean-accurate data to identify opportunities for improved care has resulted in an increased use of interpreter services and an associated decrease in readmission, specifically heart failure, by 30 percent. In addition, RWJ looked at transitional care for low-income patients to close the gap between patients discharge and their follow-up visit to their primary care physician. RWJ’s efforts resulted in a reduction of its overall 30-day hospital readmission rate from 13 percent in 2013 to 5.2 percent in 2014. This type of organizational-wide focus is evidenced through its work on diversity and inclusion. Since 2012, RWJ increased leadership diversity from 4 percent to 32 percent minority representation. Board diversity also has increased from 17 percent in 2011 to 22 percent today.

2015 Award Honoree: AnMed Health

AnMed Health in in Anderson, S.C. was noted for its use of a disparities dashboard that provides access to reliable REAL data;  centralized language service solution; and the AnMed Health Differentiology Leadership Academy that has provided 80 percent of the leadership team a two-month learning experience to identify “diversity blind spots.”

2015 Award Honoree: Rush University Medical Center

Rush University Medical Center in Chicago was noted for its use of technology with a “disparities navigator” to examine different health outcomes among patients and target interventions. Rush also has a longstanding Language Interpreters Program with a documented improvement in care and have been pioneering in work through their ADA Task Force.

From Left to Right:
Rick Pollack, Executive Vice President, Advocacy and Public Policy, AHA
Peter Butler, President, Rush University Medical Center
John A. Miller, Jr., President Emeritus, AnMed Health
Stephen Jones, President and CEO, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital
Nancy Schlichting, CEO, Henry Ford Health System
Gene Woods, Chair, Equity of Care Committee

Read the press release here.

View an interview with Stephen Jones (Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital) and Nancy Schlichting (Henry Ford Health System) on H&HN

View videos from Nancy Schlichting (Henry Ford Health System) and Juana Spears Slade (AnMed Health):

For more information contact equityaward@aha.org