Happy New Year to all! It’s exciting to experience the shift in the calendar because it’s an opportunity for us to look with optimism at what is to come. Because, as always, the work continues.

For the Institute for Diversity and Health Equity, 2024 can be summed up in a single phrase: “letting the data speak and guide us.”

Data is critical to eliminating health disparities and advancing equity, diversity and inclusion and serves as the starting point. Data shines a light on the experiences of different patient populations who are accessing care. With data, we are able to see different outcomes for these groups, broken down by race, ethnicity, gender, insurance status or socioeconomic status. Data provides context about our patients’ experiences and health outcomes so we might see where the gaps are that need to be closed.

Our mission, then, is to make data actionable. This year, we will embark on several initiatives to provide us with the data — both qualitative and quantitative — that will help us take our necessary next steps.

Launching the next DEI benchmark survey

Later this month you will receive an email inviting you to participate in AHA’s biennial DEI benchmark survey. This is a critical tool in our chest; the survey provides us with a clearer sense of what the field needs, of what evidence is missing, what vexing questions need answering and what challenges need solving. By completing the survey, your hospital is helping create a rich data source to inform our future work.

Boosting research efforts in hospitals and academic institutions

Before we wrapped 2023, IFDHE held a kickoff for a new initiative that aims to elevate the research being done in the health equity and DEI space and build a research agenda for the field. We are asking what questions still need to be answered.

We launched a Health Equities Strategic Learning Collaborative that constitutes researchers of color. This collaborative will advance equity in the following ways:

  • provide targeted opportunities for researchers of color to leverage the reach of AHA and IFDHE to increase publication and external funding; 
  • increase opportunities for marginalized researchers to partner with AHA members to produce high-quality insights that can advance health equity; 
  • increase IFDHE’s research capacity and health equity thought leadership content; and 
  • bring greater visibility to existing (and future) equity-focused health services research through AHA/IFDHE channels.

In the coming months we’ll seek to expand awareness of this effort, particularly among those leading research activities within hospitals and health systems.

2024 Accelerating Health Equity Conference

Kansas City, here we come! Registration is open for the 2024 Accelerating Health Equity Conference, a joint event hosted May 7-9 by AHA’s Association for Community Health Improvement and IFDHE. I’m personally excited to host more than 1,000 leaders from hospitals, health systems and public health/community organizations as we share expertise and resources on how to drive change and build healthier communities.

Sharing the insights of our field’s leaders

Health equity is a hard sell for some hospital leaders, due in part to constrained resources and other operational challenges facing our field. You’re not alone in considering how to stay the course and invest in proven strategies or test new ones, so we asked some of our members who sit on IFDHE’s Leadership Council to share how they’re rising to address this issue. Their wisdom is shared in “Advancing Health Equity: Strategies for a Resource-constrained Health Care Environment,” available now.

IFDHE also will host four specialty Health Equity Innovation Summits that will cover topics that are prominent subjects in the field and essential to advancing health equity. Stay tuned for information on these events that will focus on developing innovative solutions in rural communities; the role of state hospital associations; patient safety through an equity lens; and actions to reduce maternal and child health disparities.

If you think that’s a lot — great! AHA and IFDHE aim to build and sustain our ongoing support for the field’s DEI and health equity efforts. We’re excited for what’s planned and look forward to seeing you throughout the next 12 months!

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