Our nation is rapidly becoming more diverse. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, half of all children in the United States will be nonwhite by 2020, and the majority of the population will be nonwhite by 2044.

Hospitals and health systems have an imperative to ensure that every patient receives the highest quality of care and are working hard to meet the changing needs of our communities. To achieve that goal, we must redouble our efforts to identify and eliminate disparities in care.

That’s why the American Hospital Association launched the #123forEquity Pledge to Act Campaign. The campaign builds on the National Call to Action to Eliminate Health Care Disparities launched in 2011 by the AHA, American College of Healthcare Executives, Association of American Medical Colleges, Catholic Health Association of the United States and America’s Essential Hospitals.

It focuses on three areas the groups believe provide the greatest opportunities for hospitals and health systems to increase the equity of the care they provide to patients:

• Increase the collection and use of race, ethnicity and language preference data.

• Increase cultural competency training.

• Increase diversity in leadership and governance.

The #123forEquity Pledge to Act Campaign asks every hospital to commit to the following:

Take the pledge – Pledge to achieve the three areas of the National Call to Action within the next 12 months, and start by focusing on one or more quality measures.

Take action – Implement strategies that are reflected in your strategic plan and supported by your board and leadership. Provide quarterly updates on progress to the AHA and your board in order to track progress nationally.

Tell others – Achieve the goals and be recognized. Tell your story and share your learnings with others through conference calls and other educational venues, including social media, to accelerate progress collectively.

At the time of this writing, more than 920 hospitals had signed the pledge. In addition, a number of partner organizations have endorsed the campaign.

Is your hospital on the list?

You can check at www.equityofcare.org, where organizations that have made the pledge are listed by state. More details about the #123forEquity Pledge to Act Campaign can also be found there, along with resources to help you on your journey.

If you have not done so already, I urge you to take the pledge, add your organization today and join a growing list of leaders across the country leading the way to eliminating health care disparities. Addressing disparities is essential for performance excellence, improved community health and providing care for patients. Hospitals, as a field, have made progress, but more needs to be done.

It’s not only the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do. You cannot afford not to tackle this issue head on.

News from the AHA

AHA Solutions focuses on clinician leadership

Health care leaders who will succeed in the era of value-based care are committed to a path of transformational change. It’s time for a frank conversation about how the leadership paradigm has shifted and why collaborative leadership is necessary to bring about organizational success. Among the issues that need to be addressed: What physician and nurse executives must do to establish a culture of transformative change in their organizations, how to measure the return on investment of clinical leadership, and what it means to be a “leaderist” among other specialists. “Enter the New Era of Clinician Leadership,” an article in Vol. 2, Issue 3 of AHA Solutions Insights newsletter, offers resources and case studies to help. Visit www.aha-solutions.org.

Washington CEO receives Shirley Ann Munroe Award

The AHA in December awarded its 2015 Shirley Ann Munroe Leadership Award to Vince Oliver, CEO and superintendent of Island Hospital in Anacortes, Wash. The award recognizes small or rural hospital leaders who have improved health care delivery in their communities through innovative and progressive efforts. Oliver was recognized as a collaborative leader; by teaming up with physicians, staff members and the community, he has brought innovative programs to Island Hospital that enhance patient experiences and outcomes. Richard E. Nordahl, CEO of  Sanford Sheldon Iowa Medical Center, was recognized as a finalist for his significant achievement in service to his community.

Do your suppliers reflect your community?

By adopting a supplier diversity program, hospitals and health care systems can support minority-owned businesses and communities while obtaining products and services of competitively high quality and value. To help, the American Hospital Association’s Hospitals in Pursuit of Excellence offers a guide titled “Increasing Supplier Diversity in Health Care,” which provides action steps and case studies. Visit www.hpoe.org.