Advancing Health Equity in 2022 and Our Path Forward

Since solidifying our efforts toward health equity beginning in 2020, IHA members have shown tremendous commitment and progress in addressing longstanding disparities in healthcare—with successes in 2022 reflecting our concerted efforts as a hospital community.

IHA’s approach to achieving equity is organized around four pillars: “Our People,” “Our Organization,” “Our Patients” and “Our Community.” Over the past two years, at the direction of IHA’s Board of Trustees, Committee on Health Disparities (COHD) and Health Equity Leaders Workgroup (HELW), we have developed several new equity-focused tools and opportunities, including the Racial Equity in Healthcare Progress Report (Progress Report), Health Equity Learning Collaboratives and Health Equity Charters. Within the last year alone, this collective effort with our member hospitals has undoubtedly led to tangible and meaningful success as outlined below. 
Hospital Community Successes in 2022

  • Progress Report participation increased, with 28 hospitals participating for the first time and a total of roughly 150 hospitals completing the assessment to date.

  • Over 75% of hospitals improved their average composite score on the Progress Report, with the greatest increase in enhancing diversity and inclusion training among hospital staff.

  • Members submitted 103 Health Equity Charters to IHA, representing equity-focused initiatives at nearly 90 hospitals across Illinois, with over 40% addressing disparities among patients.

Illinois as a National Leader and Health Equity Action Day
The achievements of IHA members recognize how critical it is to continue to prioritize health equity, as our patients, communities, staff and organizations are all directly impacted and counting on us to keep moving forward. In fact, Illinois is becoming a leader in this space. In 2022, the Commonwealth Fund awarded a $700,000 grant to take the Progress Report—piloted at Illinois hospitals—to healthcare facilities nationwide.

In addition, IHA Health Equity Action Day drew nearly 2,000 people in 2022, with bestselling author Heather McGhee delivering a thought-provoking keynote address, “The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together.” During the day, IHA members presented successful equity initiatives for each of the four pillars. Diversity, equity and inclusion training under “Our People;” a health equity dashboard focused on non-English speaking diabetes patients under “Our Organization;” access to transportation in rural communities under “Our Patients;” and innovative hospital partnerships to address community health needs and deploy community health workers under “Our Community.”
IHA Advocacy and Policy Achievements
As part of IHA’s equity work, we are intently pursuing policies at the state and federal level to advance health equity. Notable successes last year include:

  • Securing another $150 million for the Healthcare Transformation Collaborative program to facilitate partnerships among healthcare providers and other community organizations to reduce health disparities;

  • Supporting efforts to expand Medicaid to the undocumented population;

  • Maintaining telehealth coverage for Medicaid recipients by working with the Illinois Dept. of Healthcare and Family Services; 

  • Establishing a new health equity grant program for safety net hospitals by working with lawmakers; and

  • Extending Affordable Care Act subsidies to ensure affordable and accessible Marketplace plans, by working with members of Congress.

Elected officials have also acknowledged the significant work being done by IHA and hospitals throughout Illinois. In November, IHA staff and hospital leaders were asked to present on several health equity topics at the Illinois House Democratic Women’s Caucus educational retreat. The discussion covered access to care challenges; behavioral health, with a focus on violence prevention; trauma-informed care; substance abuse and access to behavioral health services; and maternal and child health, with a focus on the impact of disparities.
2023 Programming for Members
As we look ahead, IHA has designed programming that will assist hospitals and health systems in realizing your equity goals. With the learnings of IHA Health Equity Action Day as our foundation, IHA will focus on helping members take concrete action to advance equity with opportunities to learn from hospitals across the state.

Our robust lineup of 2023 programming includes the following, but additional offerings will be added throughout the year:

  • Health Equity in Action learning collaborative series consisting of four sessions between April and May. Registration is now open—click here to learn more;

  • Webinars on best practices for social determinants of health screenings and The Joint Commission’s health equity standards;

  • A panel discussion addressing rural disparities with transformative innovation during IHA’s Small & Rural Hospitals Annual Meeting (June 28-29); and

  • A session on health equity and/or diversity, equity and inclusion during IHA’s Leadership Summit (September 21-22).

Building on the momentum of 2022, IHA is offering opportunities that will make a meaningful difference for your patients, communities, staff and organization. We encourage you and your teams to participate fully as we continue on our critical journey toward equity.