Equity of Care: The Physician Link

August 17, 2012

I have the privilege of working with The Physician Leadership Forum, which is an effort by the American Hospital Association (AHA) to promote the tools and resources that help physicians and hospitals work together to deliver the highest level of care. Through the Forum, we help the medical and hospital community identify those practices that can improve our system of care for patients. I also serve as part of the equity of care team within the AHA that supports the National Call to Action to Eliminate Healthcare Disparities.

The work and goals of the Forum and the National Call to Action are interwoven. While this connection is not often explicitly stated, perhaps it should be. Hospitals are committed to providing the best care possible to those in need. Physicians are a critical link to better care; they are at the bedside and work with patients to ensure they are diagnosed and treated properly. Equality in care is about best care for all patients. Care that is individualized and tailored to ensure inappropriate variations in care are eliminated. The Forum is working at the nexus of these trends and I believe that through better coordination between hospitals and physicians that we can begin to impact health care disparities.

Hospitals can help identify where disparities may exist through the collection of race, ethnicity and language preference data. However, targeted interventions to improve that care will come in large part from clinicians. As we learn best practices to reduce disparate care the Forum can help physicians widely adopt them. While we don’t yet have all the answers, we stand ready to help physicians and hospitals work more collaboratively today and into the future. This level of cooperation will help us all improve.

One path we know to be successful is greater cultural competency training. The better we can know a patient the better the care can tailor our treatments. We are making progress here with roughly 81 percent of hospitals providing clinical staff cultural competency training. However, we know that training is only the first step. Putting it into action in understanding how issues from religion to race impacts the care a patient receives requires us to do even more. We stand ready to help, listen and learn.

The Forum represents one more step forward in equitable care. We hope to remove barriers that may have previously impeded communication between patients, physicians and hospitals. As our health care system continually changes and embraces the transition before it, better coordination of all can bring us closer to our goals.


John R. Combes, M.D.
Physician Leadership Forum of the
American Hospital Association

The views, opinions and positions expressed in this blog are solely those of the individual authors and do not represent the views, opinions and positions of Equity of Care.

Other posts from August 2012:

Religion: An Overlooked Dimension of Cultural Competency (August 28, 2012)


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