a picture of a group of diverse business men and women sitting around a table. Two are shaking hands. Equity Measures

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Announces Strategy to Tackle Inequality in American Healthcare System

AHRQ proposes three solutions to battle systemic racism and the harmful impacts it has had on the health and well-being of so many Americans.

business meeting table

April 6, 2021 – The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) recently announced a plan to address the historical racism and inequality found in the American healthcare system. Bolstered by the Biden Administration’s Executive Order to advance equity for all people, AHRQ is committed to being part of the solution to combat systemic racism and the harmful impacts it has on the health and well-being of many Americans.

“We at AHRQ are acutely aware of the enduring racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, and geographic disparities embedded in our healthcare system,” AHRQ states in a recent blog post from David Meyers, M.D., Francis Chesley, M.D., and Kamila Mistry, Ph.D., M.P.H.. They added, “We are committed to being part of the national reckoning on systemic racism and the harmful impacts it has had on the health and well-being of so many Americans.”

Current AHRQ Measures

AHRQ currently undertakes measures to promote health equality. This includes their newly established social determinants of health database. The user-friendly database establishes easily linkable SDOH-focused data to use in PCOR research. It also informs approaches to address emerging health issues to ultimately contribute to improved health outcomes.

In addition to the database, AHRQ also promotes the annual National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report. This report includes tools for measuring healthcare quality, AHRQ Quality Indicators, and disparity reports. The advanced tool allows you to look at quality measures compared to achievable benchmarks. You can even view these results on a state-by-state basis.

Additional Equity Measures

While AHRQ has taken steps to address inequality in the American healthcare system, there are still additional measures to take. The federal health research and care delivery improvement agency aims to contribute in three distinct ways:

  1. Assessing their own agency to make AHRQ a diverse, equitable, and inclusive work environment
  2. Analyzing how to make the health services research field more diverse, equitable, and inclusive
  3. Supporting healthcare systems and professionals in efforts to achieve equity through their research, data, and analytics

AHRQ envisions taking part in activities to promote diversity, equity, and inclusiveness in the healthcare system. One initiative is expanding their hiring and recruiting processes to include more diversity. Another is to require that grant applications include information on how proposed research takes into account systemic racism and how the results will support increasing health equity. They will also support DHHS efforts to collect socioeconomic data so measures can look at health equity appropriately.  

Going Forward

AHRQ realizes this movement will take time. They are also aware that addressing racial and other health disparities will require analyzing more than just healthcare delivery. Improving healthcare will make an impact in improving health and other forms of equity in America. AHRQ is committed, as improving the quality, safety, value, and equity of healthcare delivery is their overall mission.

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The VBP Blog is a comprehensive resource for all things related to value-based payments. Up-to-date news, informative webinars, and relevant blogs in the VBP sphere to help your organization find success.