DiversityInc Top 10 Hospital Systems

By Debby Scheinholtz and Shane Nelson


As the Affordable Care Act phases in, up to 32million individualsmostly lower-income Blacks and Latinosshould have first-time access to health insurance by the beginning of next year.

The link between culturally competent patient care and hospitals’ increasing commitment to diversity management is escalating dramatically, evidenced by a doubling of the number of hospitals participating in the DiversityInc Top 50 competition this year. With more hospitals doing this well, we were able to expand our Top Hospital Systems list from five to 10.

The DiversityInc Top 10 Hospital Systems list is based on the same criteria as the DiversityInc Top 50. Here are some facts about why this top 10 is so outstanding and some examples of individual excellence:

CEO Commitment

  • Eighty percent of Top 10 Hospital Systems CEOs meet regularly with resource groupsup from 67 percent last year.
  • Massachusetts General Hospital President Dr. Peter Slavin serves as chief diversity officer. He holds department heads accountable through individual diversity plans, and he started the Multicultural Affairs Office Advisory Board to create an inclusive work environment and recruit and retain physicians underrepresented in medicine.

Cultural Competency

  • At University Hospitals, all residents participate in a two-week training rotation that includes a cultural competency module. Topics cover what to do when patients’ religious beliefs prevent them from following doctors’ orders, or how to respond to cultural concerns regarding food/nutrition recommendations or restrictions.

Addressing Health Disparities

  • Henry Ford Health System‘s Institute on Multicultural Health conducts research on health disparities, develops community-based programs aimed at improving the health of underrepresented populations, and provides cultural-competency training to researchers and healthcare providers.

Disability Initiatives

  • Rush University Medical Center has an ADA Task Force that oversees extensive efforts to make the medical center and university more accessible. Some of the hospital’s efforts include the Hospital-to-Home Program, designed to keep people from being readmitted to the hospital; a buddy program for patients with intellectual disabilities; and the Thonar Award, given annually since 1991 to recognize Rush individuals whose efforts “turn a disability into a possibility.”

Ensuring a More Diverse Pipeline for Medical Professionals

  • The North Shore-LIJ Health System‘s Hofstra School of Medicine’s Medical Scholars Pipeline Program prepares students from traditionally underrepresented groups for college and medical school. The five-year summer academic program gives students support to become physicians or other health professionals.

Patient-Focused Resource Groups

  • Mayo Clinic’s 13 resource groups, known as MERGs (Mayo Employee Resource Groups), work to improve cultural competency and patient engagement. MERGs at Mayo’s Rochester, Minn., location have helped initiate its Destination Medical Community initiative, a joint effort between Mayo and the City of Rochester to welcome patients and families who travel to use Mayo’s services.
  • Cleveland Clinic has 10 resource groups, each focused on employee development and patient experience. For example, ClinicPride, Cleveland Clinic’s Gay & Lesbian Resource Group, provides a network that supports the recruitment, professional development and retention of LGBT employees, and provides insight on gay and lesbian patient-health and -wellness issues.

Patient-Focused Diversity Council:

  • University of New Mexico Hospitals’ Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion has a steering committee and four taskforces, focusing on patient care, cultural competence, community and compliance. The community taskforce includes several representatives from New Mexico’s Native American community11 percent of the hospital system’s patients are Native American.

Mentoring Programs:

  • Continuum Health Partners’ Diversity Mentoring Program is cross-functional. As it moves into its fourth round, it will include more clinicians and middle managers to pair with senior leaders.
  • More than half of the managers at SSM Healthcare participate in formal mentoring, an effort that started in 2000 with the development of the pilot Diversity Mentoring Program, designed to increase the number of people of color, of different ethnicities or with disabilities in SSM’s management ranks.

Supplier Diversity:

  • University Hospitals was on pace to meet construction supplier-diversity goals of 15 percent MBE and 5 percent WBE spend in 2012.
  • Henry Ford Health System is recognized locally and nationally for its supplier-diversity initiative and is considered “best practice” among the healthcare industry. Ten percent of its prime contractors are Minority Business Enterprises.

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