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Novant Health becomes one of the first CMS Health Equity Award recipients

National recognition reinforces system’s commitment to reducing healthcare disparities

Winston-Salem, N.C. – Novant Health has become one of the first healthcare systems to receive the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Health Equity Award. The nationwide award, which was established in 2018, recognizes organizations that demonstrate a commitment to health equity by reducing disparities among CMS beneficiaries they serve, particularly among diversity of race, ethnicity, gender LGBTQ and those living in rural areas.

To receive this award, Novant Health had to demonstrate results in disparity measures related to, but not limited to, CMS Quality Strategy priorities over the past calendar year. These priorities include:

  • Making care safer by reducing harm
  • Strengthening personal and family engagement
  • Promoting effective communication and coordination of care
  • Promoting effective prevention and treatment of chronic disease
  • Working with communities to promote best practices of healthy living
  • Making care affordable

Novant Health established several initiatives to address CMS’ priority areas  and fulfill its mission of reducing health care disparaties.

Led by Tanya S. Blackmon, Novant Health’s executive vice president and chief diversity and inclusion officer, the healthcare system organized a team to focus on health equity, which included physicians, program managers, transcultural health managers, case managers, care coordination representatives, pharmacists, a chief nursing officer, pulmonary navigators and data and analytics representatives.

Through its research, the team identified a disparity in the hospital readmission rate of African-American patients who were discharged with a diagnosis of pneumonia, which had a 4 percent higher readmission rate than other patient populations.  The goal was to decrease avoidable readmissions, while also improving the patient experience. Through a variety of system changes, Novant Health closed the gap in readmission rates by 50 percent among its African-American patient population diagnosed with pneumonia. This project has created a framework and blue print that is being utilized for other health equity initiatives within the system and in the communities that Novant Health serves.

“This honor recognizes the exceptional work being accomplished across Novant Health. Our organization has a strong focus on health equity and ensuring that patients, families, communities, and team members receive high quality care and services when and where they need them, regardless of their ability to pay,” said Blackmon. “We’re confident that in partnership with other organizations we can make a significant impact on healthcare disparities, ensuring that everyone has access to the excellent care they deserve.”

The CMS Health Equity Award was presented to Novant Health and Kaiser Permanente on February 14, 2018 during the 2018 CMS Quality Conference.


Posted on Wednesday, March 14, 2018