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AMA, Joint Commission Launch Peer Network to Integrate Health Equity

Analysis  |  By Eric Wicklund  
   May 20, 2022

The organizations are partnering with Brigham & Women's Hospital to create a network of eight health systems that will help other healthcare organizations integrate health equity into their quality and safety practices.

The American Medical Association and Joint Commission are partnering with Brigham & Women's Hospital to create a network of health systems that will help other healthcare organizations integrate health equity into quality and safety practices.

The Advancing Equity through Quality and Safety Peer Network launched in January as a year-long mentorship and networking program for eight early adopter health systems: The Atlantic Medical Group/Atlantic Health; Children's Hospital of Philadelphia; Dana-Farber Cancer Institute; University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics; Ochsner Medical Center; University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center; Vanderbilt University Medical Center; and University of Wisconsin Hospitals & Clinics.

Those health systems will use a Quality, Safety, and Equity framework designed in 2019 by Brigham & Women's and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) that "merges patient-centered approaches to quality and safety of care with robust structural analyses of racism and equity to support an overall mission of delivering equitable high-quality care to every single patient." They'll also convene interdisciplinary teams comprised of experts in quality and safety; diversity equity; inclusion and belonging; and population health.

The idea is to create a network that focuses on improving health outcomes for "historically marginalized populations" by training health systems to address gaps in care caused by, among other factors, social determinants of health.

“For the past two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed systemic inequities in the quality and safety of the patient care experience – including gaps in interpretation services, telemedicine access, and crisis standards of care,” AMA President Gerald E. Harmon, MD, said in a press release. “Through collaborations like the Peer Network, the AMA continues its work to remove the social and structural factors that interfere with patient-centered care – providing health systems with guidance to inform equitable solutions, dismantle inequities, and improve health outcomes for our patients from historically marginalized communities.”

The peer network will focus on four strategies:

  • Systematically revealing and measuring the omnipresent and toxic effects of structural racism and other inequities on the health and well-being of patients, families, health care workers and communities;
  • Highlighting the critical role of health care organizations in preventing inequities;
  • Incorporating equity into the operational DNA of healthcare delivery and innovation; and
  • Promoting high-quality, safe and equitable outcomes for every patient, family and community served.

“Every patient deserves the right to safe, equitable healthcare,” Joint Commission President and CEO Jonathan B. Perlin, MD, PhD, said in the press release. “The COVID-19 pandemic placed sharp focus on the unacceptable disparities in health outcomes, demonstrating significant work that must be done. All healthcare organizations have a responsibility to identify and address the disparities that their unique patient populations face."

Eric Wicklund is the Innovation and Technology Editor for HealthLeaders.

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