American Hospital Association
Health Research & Educational Trust

Health Care Disparities


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).


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 health care disparities.


Address, track and reduce health care disparities in harm and readmissions by 2019.

Partnership for Patients (PfP) Goal
Showcase of The Quarter

Institute for Diversity’s #123 for Equity Campaign

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.

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Showcase of The Quarter

Showcase of The Quarter

We are pleased to kick-off our “Showcase of the Quarter” which highlights work being done to improve equity of care. This quarter’s showcase features Lee Health, a hospital system which is comprised of four acute care hospitals and two specialty hospitals. Lee Health purchased video remote interpreting machines which readily provide access to interpreters of various different languages without having interpreters physically at the hospital. It has improved many processes at the hospital.

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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:

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