The Joint Commission, Kaiser Permanente name first recipient of Bernard J. Tyson National Award for Excellence in Pursuit of Healthcare Equity

Nov. 4, 2021

A UMass Memorial Health initiative that improved adherence to well-child visits among Black and Latino pediatric patients has been named the recipient of the inaugural Bernard J. Tyson National Award for Excellence in Pursuit of Healthcare Equity by The Joint Commission and Kaiser Permanente.

The award recognizes healthcare organizations and their partners that led initiatives to achieve a measurable, sustained reduction in one or more healthcare disparities.

The health team identified and addressed disparities in adherence to well-child visits in Worcester, Massachusetts, guided by the use of data stratified by race, ethnicity and language. These efforts resulted in a 16% improvement in adherence to well-child visits among Black patients and a 12% improvement among Latino patients.

The multidisciplinary team interviewed patient families, ambulatory practice managers, pediatricians and other health system leadership. Together, they identified barriers to adherence for well-child visits, including transportation, language and scheduling. To support parents and improve accessibility and adherence to regular well-child visits, UMass Memorial Health providers implemented multiple strategies to overcome these barriers, including:

  • Conducting well-child visits during acute care appointments
  • Scheduling the next visit at the time of the current visit
  • Providing patients and their families with an information sheet highlighting the importance of preventive care visits
  • Implementing an improved reminder system
  • Making telehealth appointments available
  • Arranging transportation
  • Actively reaching out to patients who canceled or were “no-shows” for their visits to reschedule
  • Creating a well-child tip sheet to help measure success

The nine-month initiative, which coincided with the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, showed that adherence to child well-visits among Black children rose from 59% to 75%; among Latino pediatric patients, adherence rose from 64% at baseline to 76%. UMass Memorial Health’s results also showed reduced disparities in adherence between patients identifying as white and those identifying as Latino or Black.

Leveraging this success, the UMass Memorial Health team plans to next refine the health system’s social determinants of health (SDOH) screening and referral system by applying an antiracism lens to identify how structural racism and discrimination act as barriers, and to identify optimal strategies that ensure equitable implementation of SDOH interventions.

The Joint Commission and Kaiser Permanente have also recognized several additional organizations that submitted applications for the Tyson Award. These organizations are undertaking extraordinary efforts to address health care disparities. A list of these organizations and their initiatives is available here.

The Bernard J. Tyson National Award for Excellence in Pursuit of Healthcare Equity honors the late Kaiser Permanente chairman and CEO’s memory by recognizing extraordinary efforts made by health care organizations, with the goal of inspiring other health care organizations to take action to improve health care disparities. For more information on the Tyson Award, UMass Memorial Health’s initiative and more, please visit the Tyson Award webpage.

 The Joint Commission release