Joint Commission Releases Safety Advisory on Understanding Needs of Diverse Populations

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Joint Commission Releases Safety Advisory on Understanding Needs of Diverse Populations

The COVID-19 pandemic has shed a light on the many gaps in healthcare that diverse populations have experienced for decades, according to a July 14 release from The Joint Commission of Oakbrook, Illinois. Integral parts of communities, hospitals and ASCs need to understand the diverse populations they serve, including minority groups and vulnerable populations.

The Joint Commission’s new Quick Safety advisory, “Understanding the Needs of Diverse Populations in Your Community,” provides four strategies and actions to help hospitals and medical centers support their communities.

  1. Leadership should make equity a strategic priority within its institution. This requires leaders to leverage policies and practices that embrace anti-racism both within and beyond hospital walls, nurture partnerships and professional pipelines within communities, and intentionally act to address adverse social determinants of health.
  2. Use a social intervention framework, such as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Accountable Health Communities (AHC) model, to help identify needs of patient populations. The AHC model was designed to address health-related social needs of CMS beneficiaries. It focuses on screening in five domains: housing instability, difficulty paying utility bills, food insecurity, transportation and interpersonal violence.
  3. Create a strategic plan for community outreach. The plan should begin with an understanding of an organization’s culture, mission, vision and values, as well as an understanding of the patient populations that the organization serves.
  4. Support the local workforce. Organizations should make an effort to fill entry-level positions with persons from their communities and provide advancement and professional development opportunities.

“Disparities in healthcare are a major patient safety and quality concern that have been exacerbated by the pandemic as racial and ethnic minority groups have had an increased risk of getting sick and dying from COVID-19,” said Ana Pujols McKee, MD, executive vice president, chief medical officer, and chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer of The Joint Commission, in the release. “Just as we give urgent attention to healthcare-acquired conditions, we need to do the same with healthcare disparities.”

The Joint Commission and Kaiser Permanente encourage healthcare organizations that have achieved a measurable, sustained reduction in one or more healthcare disparities to apply for the Bernard J. Tyson National Award for Excellence in Pursuit of Healthcare Equity. There is no cost to apply, and applications must be submitted by August 6.