Health Disparities, Board Decisions Featured in Fall 2011 Issue of Great Boards

The fall issue of Great Boards, our first since Great Boards joined the American Hospital Association family – is now available on the Great Boards website The issue features these stories:

National Call to Curb Health Disparities – Health care access and outcomes should not be dependent on an individual’s race or ethnicity, but disparities in care remain, says the lead story.  “There’s ample evidence that indicates that differences persist in the way healthcare is delivered, that certain health needs of racial and ethnic minorities and other subgroups remain unmet, and that the health status of these populations varies from that of other subgroups.  Data show higher rates of infant mortality, hypertension, death from heart disease and stroke, and preventable hospitalizations among blacks compared with other populations. When hospitals look at their patient diagnoses data by race and ethnicity they also can uncover less obvious health needs.”

In July, these findings drove a group of leading health organizations, including the American Hospital Association, American College of Healthcare Executives, the Catholic Health Association of the United States, the National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems and the American Association of Medical Colleges, to issue a national “Call to Action” urging hospital and health system leaders to take three steps to help eliminate disparities and improve quality of care for all. These steps include:

  • Increasing the collection and use of race, ethnicity and language preference data;
  • Increasing cultural competency training; and
  • Increasing diversity in governance and leadership.

This article by Great Boards managing editor Mary Totten describes action steps boards can take to provide leadership on reducing health disparities.

Avoiding Bad Big Decisions – Boards and senior management teams often make three mistakes in decision making that lead to flawed, suboptimal decisions.  This commentary by Barry Bader says boards need to pay attention to their process for decision making, and it offers practical ideas for making decisions effectively.

Also look for several sample resources, including a charter for a board Cultural Diversity Committee, a Racial and Ethnic Disparities Dashboard and a Policy on Strategic Planning, on the Great Boards site home page under Related Resources.