Hospital Strategies for Combating Health Care Disparities

Health care disparities, defined as variation in quality and safety of care by patient sociodemographic characteristics, have been a significant and persistent problem in American health care.  While California hospitals and hospital systems have often been at the forefront of the quest to achieve health care equity, significant work still remains ahead of us.

This page is intended to provide hospitals with select current resources and wisdom that can assist them in measuring, understanding, and alleviating disparities in care. 

While California hospitals in recent years made definite strides to improve the overall maternity care, there continue to be large racial disparities in maternal mortality and morbidity.  For example, Black women are 3 to 4 times more likely to die during childbirth than white women and their risk of severe maternal morbidity is twice that of white women, even after adjusting for demographic and socioeconomic factors, and comorbidities.  Significant evidence points to implicit bias and racism as major factors in these perinatal inequities. 

For a comprehensive review of issues and interventions taking place in California, visit California Health Care Foundation’s website Improving Birth Equity in California’s Health Care System.

California legislature brought attention to perinatal disparities in SB-464 (California Dignity in Pregnancy and Childbirth Act.)  Among other provisions, SB-464 stipulates that California hospitals implement evidence-based implicit bias training programs for all health care staff involved in the perinatal care of patients.  The law became effective on 1/1/2020.

In consultation with key stakeholders (including HQI), California Health Care Foundation funded a team of pre-eminent national experts to develop a set of brief, interactive e-learning modules for perinatal providers and staff, focused on mitigating racism and negative effects of implicit bias.

The modules are now available on Diversity Science website free of charge and designed to align with the training requirements of SB-464.