Health Equity Project Wins Tyson Award

Team continues to identify barriers caused by structural racism and discrimination — and find better strategies for equitable implementation of social determinants of health interventions.
Tyson Award Overview

A data-driven UMass Memorial Health project — designed to identify and address racial gaps in adherence to pediatric well-visits — received the inaugural Bernard J. Tyson National Award for Excellence in Pursuit of Healthcare Equity in 2021. The award recognizes health care organizations leading initiatives that result in measurable, sustained improvements in health equity.

“UMass Memorial Health’s success in reducing health care disparities among Black and Latino pediatric patients is well deserving of the first Tyson Award,” said David W. Baker, MD, MPH, FACP, Executive Vice President, Healthcare Quality Evaluation, at The Joint Commission, which established the award in tandem with Kaiser Permanente. “The project team was able to make a significant improvement in well-child visit adherence in less than a year, showing all health care leaders that health care disparities can be improved with even small changes and must be taken seriously.”

The late Bernard J. Tyson was named CEO of Kaiser Permanente in 2013 and Chairman of its Board of Directors in 2014. Throughout his 30 years at the company, he was committed to addressing the health care inequities that persist in the U.S. health care system.

“I’m proud that The Joint Commission and Kaiser Permanente have recognized our team’s work and how much significant progress we’ve made,” said UMass Memorial Health Chief Quality Officer and Chief Informatics Officer Eric Alper, MD. “While we took on this project during the height of the pandemic, we are working toward closing the gap even further as we continue to focus on this issue. Our team is excited about addressing other areas where we identify health care inequities.”

The UMass Memorial project was chosen, in part, because of its sustainability. The project team is continually refining the evaluation and implementation efforts for improving visit adherence, identifying how structural racism and discrimination act as barriers, and finding better strategies to ensure equitable implementation of social determinants of health interventions.

“I’m so pleased that the Tyson Award selection committee recognized this work.” said Lawrence Rhein, MD, MPH, Chair of the Department of Pediatrics at UMass Memorial Health and Associate Professor at UMass Chan Medical School. “Since we’re an academic institution, part of our mission is to share our work and outcomes within our organization, regionally and nationally. I’m proud of the fact that our leadership at UMass Memorial recognizes the value of pediatrics and supports our department’s efforts to make health care more equitable for our patients and their families.”

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