WASHINGTON: The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) has retained GYMR as part of a delicate initiative to end racial disparities in cardiac care.
The "Expecting Success" program asks hospitals to find ways to ensure that all patients receive the same quality of care. But there are sensitivities in discussing how race affects healthcare delivery.
"We've been really deliberate in our messaging and PR," said Minna Jung, communications officer for the RWJF. "You can see the potential for fanning the flames. Even though we acknowledge that there are real injustices at play, we're not taking a civil rights ... perspective."
The RWJF is spending about $500,000 over three years on outreach, which will include recruiting hospitals, health plans, and other strategic partners to play a role in the initiative. Ten hospitals, which have yet to be selected, will participate in a pilot program and serve as spokespeople.
Jung noted that the message to medical centers is not to accuse them of injustice, but to say, "we want you to be part of the best cadre of hospitals."
To make sure hospitals are meeting benchmarks, "they actually have to start identifying patients by race, an initiative that can be controversial," she said. "But what we're trying to do is make it less controversial."
GYMR will also promote progress reports about the program as well as snapshots of the state of cardiac care in each community where the initiative is under way.
"A big part of this program will be sharing lessons learned," said Patrick McCabe, GYMR founding partner.
The agency already works on another RWJF program, "Cover the Insured Week."