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Advancing Health Care Equity

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Back for its Second Year: The Bernard J. Tyson National Award for Excellence in Pursuit of Healthcare Equity


Tyson Award Logo

By Ana Pujols McKee, MD, Executive Vice President, Chief Medical Officer, and Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer; and David W. Baker, MD, MPH, FACP, Executive Vice President for Health Care Quality Evaluation

The Bernard J. Tyson National Award for Excellence in Pursuit of Healthcare Equity, in partnership with Kaiser Permanente, is back for its second year! We are excited to learn more about all the innovative projects healthcare organizations around the country have taken on to address healthcare equity.

The award recognizes a healthcare organization and its partners that led initiatives that achieved a measurable, sustained reduction in one or more health care disparities.

Why recognize healthcare equity?

In 2020, when many took to the streets to protest the discrimination black Americans still face in this country, and the then-new pandemic only highlighted the inequities of our healthcare system, The Joint Commission realized we could be doing more.

We made it a goal to provide incentives and best practices for the field to advance in this domain, encouraging the adoption of strategies to improve outcomes in populations with disparities. 

So, we began our search for an inspiring namesake for an award program and identified late Chair and CEO of Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson. Before his unexpected passing in 2019, Mr. Tyson believed everyone should have access to high-quality healthcare and have the same opportunities for good health, challenging the healthcare industry to address inequities in care he saw around the country.

Joint Commission and our partner in this award program Kaiser Permanente are focusing on healthcare equity now because we are impassioned advocates for quality and patient safety for all, particularly for vulnerable populations. It is time to use The Joint Commission’s strong influence as the nation’s oldest and largest healthcare accreditor to help move the needle on disparities. Now is the time to act to help move healthcare forward.

Eligibility Requirements

The organization submitting the application must deliver direct patient care. If a group of organizations or a collaborative is applying, non-clinical partners may be included, but the primary organization on the application must deliver direct patient care.

This requirement keeps the patient in focus – after all, the patient is centered in The Joint Commission’s and Kaiser Permanente’s missions to ensure that all have access to safe, quality care. 

In addition, to ensure we are highlighting an innovative, replicable initiative with strong data, there are key requirements surrounding the initiative an organization may submit. To be eligible for the Tyson Award, an organization must: 

  • Achieve a measurable, sustained reduction in one or more healthcare disparities. In order to prove an improvement in a disparity, your organization must submit relevant data.
  • Address specific disparities and target a specific vulnerable population. This can include race or ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, or any other protected status.
  • Document measurable improvement. This includes baseline data to show the starting point, baseline metrics improvement for the target population and data illustrating sustained improvement.
  • Explain the intervention employed. This can include performance improvement methodology, such as Lean/Six Sigma, or Change Management, for example.
  • Describe how the initiative was innovative or novel. A winning initiative will not yet be standard industry practice.
  • Be willing to share your results with a national healthcare community as a best practice to improve healthcare equity. One of The Joint Commission and Kaiser Permanente’s goals with the Tyson Award is to share these best practices to inspire other organizations to take action.

The Tyson Award offers organizations the opportunity to be recognized nationally for their work. For more information on application requirements, the first Tyson Award winner’s application, dos and don’ts for your application, and to apply, please visit the Tyson Award webpage.

David W. Baker, MD, MPH, FACP, is the Executive Vice President for Healthcare Quality Evaluation at The Joint Commission. In this role, he leads the Department of Standards and Survey Methods, the Department of Quality Measurement, and the Department of Research. Dr. Baker oversees the development of performance measures, standards, survey methods, and National Patient Safety Goals for all Joint Commission accreditation and certification programs. Dr. Baker is also Editor-in-Chief for the Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety.

Ana Pujols McKee, MD, is the executive vice president, chief medical officer, and chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer of The Joint Commission. In this role, Dr. McKee focuses on and develops policies and strategies for promoting patient safety and quality improvement in healthcare and leads the Joint Commission enterprise in meeting its goals of increasing diversity and inclusion.