The American Medical Association this week, along with Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Joint Commission, announced the launch of a new learning network to help U.S. health systems approach their quality improvement and patient safety practices with health equity top of mind.

The goal of the Advancing Equity through Quality and Safety Peer Network – which offers a yearlong mentorship and networking program – is to improve health outcomes for historically marginalized populations.

Eight initial health systems will work together on ensuring that awareness of health equity is better embedded in their respective healthcare delivery practices, according to AMA. The participating providers will learn strategies for identifying and addressing root causes of inequities with integrated approaches to quality, safety and operations.

They’ll use a framework designed at Brigham and Women’s and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, according to the news announcement, which describes it as a “patient-centered approach [including] robust structural analyses of racism and equity to support an overall mission of delivering equitable, high-quality care to all patients.”

The first participants include Atlantic Medical Group/Atlantic Health, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics, Ochsner Medical Center, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Vanderbilt University Medical Center and University of Wisconsin Hospitals & Clinics.

“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,” AMA President Dr. Gerald E. Harmon said in a statement.

As more and more health systems put a focus on health equity, they’re understanding how these approaches to quality and access must be embedded in enterprise-wide care delivery processes and even in healthcare business models.

“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,” said Harmon.

“Every patient deserves the right to safe, equitable healthcare,” Joint Commission President and CEO Dr. Jonathan B. Perlin said in a statement. “All healthcare organizations have a responsibility to identify and address the disparities that their unique patient populations face. We look forward to working with others in the Peer Network in implementing sustainable solutions for equitable excellence in healthcare.”

Twitter: @MikeMiliardHITN
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