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Board Leadership Series: Health Equity

This video defines and describes health equity and how it can be addressed within rural communities. Boards and senior leaders will gain a better understanding of the unique strengths and challenges rural communities experience in addressing health equity, the social influencers of health, and discover ways hospitals can advance health equity, including what tools, resources, and systems might be employed and engaged.

This video will give you a better understanding of:

  • The unique strengths and challenges rural communities experience in health, health care, public health, and in addressing health equity
  • The social influencers of health, including structural urbanism and its impact on rural communities
  • What hospitals and rural health/access centers can do to address health equity, including what tools, resources, and systems might be employed and engaged

Video Presenter

Qiana Thomason, President/CEO, Health Forward Foundation

Thomason, a life-long Kansas Citian, has dedicated her career to the improvement of health and wellness across the region, with a special focus on communities with significant health disparities. Thomason comes to Health Forward from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City (Blue KC), where she most recently served as Vice President, Community Health and Health Equity. During that time, she spearheaded development of new care delivery and payment models in partnership with health care providers throughout Kansas City and has been a champion for the inclusion of health equity and the social determinants of health in corporate strategy.

Prior to her tenure at Blue KC, Thomason spent eight years at Swope Health as the Director of Clinical Operations, Behavioral Health and Program Manager of the multi-municipality Mental Health Court. She also served as Deputy Director and Health and Human Services Liaison for United States Senator Jean Carnahan.

Discussion and Reflection Questions

  • Does the hospital/system have a health equity or anti-racism strategy? If yes, what does it entail and who (identities) contributed to its development? 
  • Has the board prioritized diversifying the board with people of color? If not, why not? If yes, what goals have been established and how are these goals being tracked and advanced?
  • Does the hospital know the self-reported racial and ethnic identity of its workforce - clinical and non-clinical roles? 
  • How is the hospital using race, ethnicity, and language (REL) data, and sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) in quality and performance improvement processes? How do we ensure this is collected with care, compassion, and in a culturally affirming way? 
  • How is the hospital/system working internally to assess, and externally in collaboration with cross-sector community stakeholders to address the socioeconomic needs (access to whole healthy foods, transportation, housing, etc.) of patients?
  • How is the hospital/system (if non-profit) levering its Community Health Needs Assessment for health equity?
  • What indicators will the board need to see and understand to ensure we are progressing in health equity?
  • What are the tension points of health equity work for hospitals?

Suggested Activities

  • Include health equity in your strategic planning conversations.
  • Identify health disparities through your community health needs assessment — and then develop structure and processes to address those disparities.
  • Collect equity-centered data around:
  • Race, ethnicity, and language data, also known as R.E.L data, 
  • Sexual orientation and gender identity data
  • Social needs information through capturing Z codes in patient assessment
  • Diversify the health care workforce and pipeline in your community.
  • Develop meaningful partnerships with community organizations.


Structural Urbanism Contributes To Poorer Health Outcomes For Rural America Health Affairs, December 2019

Watch: The Bridge Parable / How the Kansas City region can achieve health equity Health Forward Foundation, February 2022

Implementing High-Quality Primary Care: Rebuilding the Foundation of Health Care The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, 2021

CMS Framework for Health Equity CMS Office of Minority Health, Last updated April 2022

#123forEquity Campaign to Eliminate Health Care Disparities American Hospital Association

Achieving Health Equity: A Guide for Health Care Organizations Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), 2016

Racial Disparities in Pain Management of Children With Appendicitis in Emergency Departments JAMA Network, November 2015

Racial and Ethnic Disparities Continue in Pregnancy-Related Deaths Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, September 2019

Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care National Library of Medicine, 2003

The Kansas City Health Equity Learning and Action Network Health Forward Foundation, IHI, KC Health Collaborative, 2022


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