Achieving Health Equity: A Guide for Health Care Organizations

How to Cite This Paper:

Wyatt R, Laderman M, Botwinick L, Mate K, Whittington J. Achieving Health Equity: A Guide for Health Care Organizations. IHI White Paper. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Institute for Healthcare Improvement; 2016. (Available at


Significant disparities in life expectancy and other health outcomes persist across the United States. Health care has a significant role to play in achieving health equity. While health care organizations alone do not have the power to improve all of the multiple determinants of health for all of society, they do have the power to address disparities directly at the point of care, and to impact many of the determinants that create these disparities.

This white paper provides guidance on how health care organizations can reduce health disparities related to racial or ethnic group; religion; socioeconomic status; gender; age; mental health; cognitive, sensory, or physical disability; sexual orientation or gender identity; geographic location; or other characteristics historically linked to discrimination or exclusion.

The IHI White Paper includes:

  • A framework, with five key components, for health care organizations to improve health equity in the communities they serve:
    • Make health equity a strategic priority
    • Develop structure and processes to support health equity work
    • Deploy specific strategies to address the multiple determinants of health on which health care organizations can have a direct impact
    • Decrease institutional racism within the organization
    • Develop partnerships with community organizations to improve health and equity
  • Guidance for measuring health equity
  • A case study of one health care organization that has strategically integrated work to improve health equity throughout their system
  • A self-assessment tool for health care organizations to gauge their current focus on and efforts to improve health equity

 Download White Paper

For Whom Is the White Paper Most Useful?

Dr. Ronald Wyatt, co-author of the Achieving Health Equity IHI White Paper, explains who will find the paper and the framework described within it most useful.

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