American Hospital Association
Health Research & Educational Trust

Health Care Disparities

Importance: Health disparities can be defined as inequalities that exist when members of certain population groups do not benefit from the same health status as other groups. The evolving definition of diversity is inclusive of race, ethnicity, language preference, disability status, gender identity, sexual orientation, veteran status, and socioeconomic factors. Health equity is the attainment of the highest level of health for all people.

Health care disparities impact quality of care, health outcomes and overall cost of care. For example, racial and ethnic minorities are more likely to experience medical errors, adverse outcomes, longer lengths of stay and avoidable readmissions (HRET, 2013). Racial and ethnic minorities are also less likely to receive evidence-based care for certain conditions. Disparities impact the cost of care; a Kaiser Family Foundation report found that 30 percent of direct medical costs for African Americans, Hispanics and Asian Americans are excess costs due to health inequities (KFF, 2012).

Accomplishments: By partnering with the Institute for Diversity in Health Management (IFD) and the #123forequity Campaign, HRET has unique access to Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), education and resources that will help hospitals identify and eliminate disparities in care. In addition, the HRET HIIN will convene Patient and Family Engagement (PfE) groups to receive and incorporate their feedback and suggestions on improving equity of care and eliminating healthcare disparities.

PfP Goal: By 2019, each participating HIIN hospital reduces all-cause inpatient harm by 20 percent and readmissions by 12 percent by 2019.


Download toolkit

Download framwork

Watch past event

Access additional resources

Download the HPOE/HRET Toolkit for Eliminating Health Care Disparities

Download the HPOE/HRET Framework for Stratifying Race Ethnicity and Language Data

Watch Past Disparities Webinars

Access Additional Health Care Disparities Resources

Institute for diversity

As part of the equity of care initiative, the IFD helped launched the AHA #123forEquity Pledge to Act in 2015 to eliminate health care disparities. The #123forEquity initiative is a national call to action to eliminate health care disparities involving the American Hospital Association (AHA), the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE), the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), Catholic Health Association (CHA) and America’s Essential Hospitals. HRET HIIN is a proud partner of the #123forEquity campaign, which asks hospitals to:

1) Take the pledge to achieve the three areas of the call to action.

2) Implement strategies supported by the board and leadership and aligned with their strategic plan

3) Tell the organization’s story and share learnings and outcomes during events and through social media to encourage others to act

Back to Top

Health Equity Must Be a Strategic Priority

Kedar Mate, MD & Ronald Wyatt, MD, MHA

Strategic Priority article


NASEM issues report with solutions for communities to advance health equity

News Report


Public Health Departments and Accountable Care Organizations: Finding Common Ground in Population Health

Richard Ingram, DrPH, F. Douglas Scutchfield, MD, and Julia F. Costich, JD, PhD

Population Health report


Hospitals & Health Networks

Cleveland Clinic’s 15-Year Focus on Improving Minority Health

View Article


Hospitals & Health Networks

Video: CIOs Tackle Diversity, Ponder the Future at HIMSS

View Article

Back to Top

Health Research & Educational Trust (HRET). (2013, November). Rising above the noise: Making the case for equity in care. Chicago: Health Research & Educational Trust. Retrieved from HRET's Hospitals in Pursuit of Excellence website:

Smedley, B.D., Stith, A.Y., and Nelson, A.R. (2002). Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care. Institute of Medicine Committee on Understanding and Eliminating Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care, Board on Health Policy, Institute of Medicine. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. Retrieved from the National Academies Press website:

The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF). (2012, December). Disparities in health and health care: Five key questions and answers (Issue Brief No. 8396). Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved from the KFF website:

Back to Top