The Institute of Medicine Reports Crossing the Quality Chasm and Unequal Treatment highlight the critical nexus between improving quality and eliminating racial and ethnic disparities in health care. Combined, they provide a blueprint for addressing disparities that can only be achieved if a concerted, coordinated effort towards health systems change can be achieved. This will require leaders in quality improvement who have the tools and skills to move their organizations forward toward the elimination of racial and ethnic disparities in care. The Disparities Leadership Program (DLP) is the only conference of its kind that brings leaders from quality improvement from health plans, hospitals, and health centers together to engage in a formal skills curriculum taught by leading experts, as well as share their experiences through learning collaborative. It is designed for leaders from hospitals, health plans and other health care organizations who want a) develop a strategic plan or b) advance a project to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in health care, particularly through quality improvement, within their organization. The DLP has two overarching aims:
Aim 1 : To create a cadre of leaders in health care equipped with a) in-depth knowledge of the field of disparities, including root causes and research to date;b) cutting-edge quality improvement strategies for identifying and addressing disparities;and c) the leadership skills to implement these strategies and help transform their organizations.
Aim 2 : To help individuals from organizations-who may be at the beginning stages or in the middle of developing or implementing a strategic plan or project to address disparities-further advance or improve their work in a customized, tailored fashion. The DLP will begin with a two-day intensive training session focused on defining disparities and root causes;developing cutting-edge quality improvement strategies to identify and address disparities;and fostering leadership skills to implement these strategies and help transform their organizations. Faculty will include national experts at the DSC, leadership from the MGH, and leadership from several health plans across the country who are at the cutting-edge of the disparities field. The DLP will continue with a two-day closing meeting where participants will present their work and lessons learned and individual strategic plans or projects. They will also have the opportunity to network with and learn from like-minded peers at this time and over the course of the year. DLP participants will receive continuing education credits, as well as a certificate for completing the program.
Relevance Racial/ethnic disparities in health care--or differences in care that patients receive based on their race/ethnicity, with minorities receiving lower quality care than their white counterparts even when they have the same insurance and socioeconomic status--have been well defined and the need has been established to better identify and address them. Hospitals, health plans, and community health centers across the country are trying to sort out what types of activities they should engage in to respond to this crisis. The Disparities Leadership Program provides leaders of health care organizations with the education about the field of disparities;tools to identify and address them;and leadership skills to implement these strategies within their organizations--ultimately leading to high quality, equitable health care.