The Institute for Diversity in Health Management, an affiliate of the American Hospital Association, released findings from its biennial survey on hospital diversity and health care disparities, noting promising increases in health equity, but more work is needed.
The survey, “Diversity and Disparities: A Benchmarking Study of U.S. Hospitals,”found hospitals are doing a good job collecting patient demographic data. Results show 98 percent of hospitals are collecting data on race, 95 percent on ethnicity, 94 percent on language and nearly all (99 percent) are collecting data on gender. While there have been increases in using collected data to identify the needs of their patients, less than half of the 1,084 hospitals surveyed have used that data to improve quality.
“Hospitals across America are working hard to advance quality and improve care for every individual,” said AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack, in a news release. “Understanding why different patient populations in a community may experience different outcomes is a critical piece of those efforts. The survey tells us that we have not made as much progress as we would have liked in some key areas. It shines a light on where more attention is needed to meet the expectations of patients and communities.”
Those areas aim to be addressed by the AHA’s #123forEquity Pledge to Act campaign that focuses on specific actions to achieve more equitable, safer and higher-quality care. More than 1,100 hospitals and health systems have committed to the campaign.
One area in which hospitals should look to improve upon is establishing more minority leadership roles. Minorities made up 11 percent of hospital leadership teams and 14 percent of governing boards, similar to that of the 2013 survey.
Hospitals did increase staff training to better meet the needs of their respective patient demographics. Of those surveyed, eight in 10 educate clinical staff during orientation on addressing cultural and linguistic factors in patient care, and 79 percent provide further educational opportunities on the topic. Additionally, 40 percent of hospitals have guidelines for cultural and linguistic competencies in daily operations — an eight percent increase from 2013.
“The survey data show we must remain diligent and focus on strategies that support equity of care,” said Tomás León, president and CEO of the Institute, in the same release.
The results will help the AHA and the Institute to develop new strategies, programs and resources for the field to move beyond incremental progress, León said.