Why It Matters
"Progress towards higher quality, safety, and value will be hollow if we do not achieve equity.”
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The Challenge and Opportunity of Health Equity

By IHI Multimedia Team | Friday, February 21, 2014


What are the most intractable challenges facing health care in America?

We’ve seen improvements in the quality of American health care and made incredible strides to make care safer across the continuum. The last five years have even seen the ‘cost curve’ bend as new payment and care models, system-wide reform and focus, and public policy have converged to slow the rate of growth in health care costs.

Where aren’t we seeing more improvement? One area that clearly needs more work is health equity, where racial and ethnic disparities in particular remain pervasive.

Health Equity

Inspired by the work of IHI’s Diversity and Inclusion Council, we jumped into the topic of health equity on the February 20th WIHI, joined by an incredible cast of experts working on the frontline of reducing disparities. Dr. Andrew Loehrer of Massachusetts General Hospital outlined his research into the strides Massachusetts has made in in access to certain surgeries due to the state's landmark health care reform law. Tessa Kerby and David Johnson of HealthPartners in Minnesota described their pioneering work engaging in culturally diverse – and often isolated – communities to expand access to cancer screenings, while Yvonne Coghill told us how the NHS is focusing on integrating racial and ethnic minorities into the leadership structure of the National Health System to the benefit of both the providers and the patients.

As Dr. Don Goldmann, IHI’s chief medical and scientific officer, stated, “For quality improvers, the current situation provides both an opportunity and a challenge. An opportunity to show that attention to the fundamentals of scientific improvement can make a difference. Progress towards higher quality, safety, and value will be hollow if we do not achieve equity.”

We encourage you to take a listen to this important episode of WIHI – and explore the many resources offered by our guests and listeners.

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