As we continue to work together to improve the quality and safety of patient care, it’s imperative that we also strive to achieve health equity.
According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s 2012 National Healthcare Disparities Report, health care quality and access are sub-optimal, especially for minority and low-income groups. While overall quality is improving, access to care is not, and the rate of disparities remains stagnant. Besides harming patients, health care disparities pose a tremendous cost burden, which will only get worse as the U.S. population continues to age and diversify.
The good news is that there is a renewed national effort among the health care community to reduce disparities. QIOs are looking at disparity data in their own communities and engaging with government agencies, health care associations and community groups to develop initiatives and programs aimed at improving health equity. These activities are enabling communities to ensure everyone has access to the care they deserve, reduce hospital readmission rates and enhance health literacy.
Let’s continue to share lessons learned and best practices in eliminating disparities. I look forward to hearing your ideas and learning from your experiences.
Jean Moody-Williams, R.N., MPP
Director, Quality Improvement Group
Center for Clinical Standards & Quality
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services