Christus Health, Irving, Texas, is among the earliest to adopt the #123forEquity Pledge to Act, part of an effort to increase diversity in hospital management and on hospital boards.

Produced by the American Hospital Association’s Institute for Diversity in Health Management, the hope is that hospitals will agree to meet the heightened goals of the pledge.

“Providing equitable care is inextricably linked to advancing the Triple Aim goals of providing better care, smarter spending and a better experience,” says Eugene Woods, president and chief operating officer of Christus Health.

Christus already has reached the goal of 20 percent minority representation on its board of directors and 20 percent on the leadership team. The American Hospital Association has set 20 percent minority representation in governance and 17 percent in leadership as a goal for hospitals to reach by the year 2020.

“As a top priority for the association, the board and myself personally, the issue of equity is important for two main reasons,” says Rick Pollack, AHA president and CEO. “First, it is the right thing to do. As a society, we need to be sensitive to the need for diversity and inclusion. And, as our demographics change, our organizations need to change as well, to be reflective of those demographics.

“Second, it’s the smart thing to do. Better care is dependent on less health care disparity. You cannot succeed on value-based payments if you do not improve in this area. From the patient’s perception of the health system to their judgment of the care experience, those value-based measures will affect payments.”

Woods, who sits on the AHA board, couldn’t agree more. “To provide better care, we must solve the problem of racial and ethnic minorities' receiving lower-quality health care than nonminorities,” Woods says. “With respect to smarter spending, eliminating disparity is one of the biggest levers we have to decreasing per capita costs. Finally, providing a better experience for patients with different language preferences and from many different ethnicities and races requires that we become more culturally competent.”

The effort to accelerate progress in this area is not driven just by the AHA, which has partnered with a number of organizations in the Equity of Care initiative. “People will begin to understand the need to address equity issues as they see the numerous organizations pushing for progress,” Pollack says. “It’s the American College of Healthcare Executives, the American Association of Medical Colleges, the Catholic Health Association, and more. Already, many state hospital associations are signed up as well.”