Minnesota Hospital Association

Quality & Patient Safety

Equity and Health Care Disparities

Minnesota’s hospitals and health systems serve and are part of increasingly diverse communities. They are working hard to meet the changing needs of their communities and ensure that every individual receives the highest quality of care.

Social factors can have a strong impact on overall health. Housing, transportation, educational attainment, food security and access to economic resources are just some of the social influencers of health affecting the health of individuals and families. Minnesota’s hospitals and health systems are working toward solutions and providing support to improve the health and lives of all Minnesotans.

MHA and its members are on a journey toward equity and inclusion. Hospitals and health systems regularly conduct community health needs assessments in partnership with their communities to respond to the health and wellness needs of their communities. On a statewide level, MHA coordinates data, quality and safety improvement activities; education events; and meetings with lawmakers on equity and diversity topics.

To reduce health inequities, hospitals and health systems are making efforts to align quality improvement goals with disparities solutions. MHA developed a road map and resources to help hospitals and health systems identify, address and eliminate health care disparities.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Partnership for Patients Hospital Improvement Innovation Network Health Equity Affinity Group, which included MHA, developed a health equity organizational assessment road map outlining evidence-based recommendations and standards for the development of prevention and quality improvement programs that align process improvements with outcome data. The road map reflects published literature and guidance from relevant professional organizations and regulatory agencies, as well as identified proven practices.

Download the health equity organizational assessment road map:

health equity organizational road map

REL data collection

Race, ethnicity and language (REL) data is information that hospitals and health systems ask patients to provide when they receive care. Hospitals and health systems use this data to identify health disparities affecting their patient populations and use quality improvement tools and techniques to address these disparities. This data also helps ensure that hospitals and health systems are equipped to provide patients the resources they need, including interpreter services, culturally responsive care, multilingual patient information materials, health care staff who have cultural competence and more. 

A full 100% of MHA member hospitals and health systems share their REL data with MHA – with identifying information removed – so that data-led health care equity improvement work can be conducted at a statewide level. Using this data, MHA works with members to identify disparities and outcomes and target responses appropriately. For example, if the MHA Perinatal Committee sees a disparity in obstetric hemorrhage in a specific community based on REL data, the committee can help identify and address barriers to care to help reduce the disparity. 

#123forEquity Pledge to Act

The American Hospital Association (AHA) launched its #123forEquity of Care Pledge in July 2015 to build on the National Call to Action to Eliminate Health Care Disparities – a joint effort of the AHA, American College of Healthcare Executives, Association of American Medical Colleges, Catholic Health Association of the United States and America’s Essential Hospitals. With the leadership of the MHA board, in October 2015 MHA signed the pledge to eliminate health care disparities and support members in achieving the campaign’s goals.

The pledge asks hospitals and health systems to take action to accelerate progress on the following goals:

  1. Increasing the collection and use of race, ethnicity, language preference and other socio-demographic data.
  2. Increasing cultural competency training.
  3. Increasing diversity in leadership and governance.
  4. Improving and strengthening community partnerships. 

The pledge asks for the following commitments:

  • Take action on the AHA's National Call to Action to Eliminate Health Care Disparities' goals to ensure that quality and equitable health care is delivered to all persons.
  • Take action on at least one of the four goals. The goals selected will be completed in alignment with the strategic goals of the organization. 

As integral parts of their communities, hospitals and health systems have an opportunity to lead on this important issue across all communities and organizations in partnership with the diverse populations they are privileged to serve. MHA encourages all member hospitals and health systems to take the pledge and make progress toward achieving the national goals.