Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association

Massachusetts Hospitals Achieve First-in-the-Nation Health Equity Distinction from The Joint Commission

Quotation marks with an EKG symbol

The accomplishment is part of hospitals’ united commitment to closing care disparities
through a historic 1115 waiver program

BURLINGTON, MA – February 26, 2024 – The Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association (MHA) and The Joint Commission today announced that Massachusetts is the first U.S. state in which all hospitals have taken the meaningful step to close health disparities by meeting The Joint Commission’s new healthcare equity accreditation standard. To further the state’s commitment to health equity, these hospitals plan to achieve The Joint Commission’s Health Care Equity Certification by 2025. 

In 2023, The Joint Commission introduced a new accreditation standard with six requirements for hospitals across the nation to meet – demonstrating that reducing health disparities is a quality and safety priority. Over the past year, Massachusetts acute care hospitals were evaluated for adherence to these comprehensive healthcare equity accreditation requirements, and every hospital was determined to operate in accordance with them. The standard requires that hospitals:

  • Identify an individual to lead activities to improve healthcare equity
  • Assess patients’ health-related social needs
  • Analyze quality and safety data to identify disparities
  • Develop an action plan to improve healthcare equity
  • Take action when the organization does not meet the goals in its action plan
  • Inform key stakeholders about progress to improve healthcare equity

“This recognition is a testament to our healthcare community’s commitment to set a national standard when it comes to what accessible, culturally competent patient care looks like,” said Izzy Lopes, vice president of health equity at MHA. “We applaud our hospitals and caregivers for their tireless work to meaningfully anchor health equity into everything they do. And we are especially grateful for the Executive Office of Health & Human Services’ leadership and collaboration in shaping the historic 1115 Medicaid Waiver that made this accomplishment possible.”

The Joint Commission distinction is one element of the commonwealth’s groundbreaking 1115 Medicaid Waiver, which empowers hospitals to embed health equity efforts at the point of care, make services more accessible for patients, and reduce persistent disparities. This historic commitment was led by the state’s Executive Office of Health & Human Services that worked extensively with Massachusetts hospitals to establish concrete health equity goals and establish processes to better understand and care for all patient populations.

“We commend the Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association for taking a leadership role to help all patients across its state receive equitable care,” said Jonathan B. Perlin, M.D., PhD, MSHA, MACP, FACMI, president and chief executive officer at The Joint Commission enterprise. “The historic decision to embed healthcare equity efforts across every hospital in the state will have a profound impact in reducing health disparities. The Joint Commission looks forward to continued collaboration with the Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association to translate equitable healthcare into better health outcomes. We hope other states look to Massachusetts’ example to make equity a top patient safety and quality priority.”

Achieving the healthcare equity accreditation standard is the first step Massachusetts hospitals are taking toward obtaining The Joint Commission’s Health Care Equity Certification, an advanced program that recognizes hospitals that strive for excellence in their efforts to provide equitable care, treatment, and services. The advanced certification requirements emphasize the structures and processes healthcare organizations need to implement to decrease health disparities in their patient populations; promote diversity, equity, and inclusion for their staff; and address five key domains: leadership, collaboration, data collection, provision of care, and performance improvement.

To learn more about The Joint Commission’s healthcare equity accreditation standard, visit the Health Care Equity Accreditation Resource Center.

Learn more about MHA and its partners’ commitment to health equity here.