Campaign Aims to Eliminate Racism in Patient Care in Massachusetts

BOSTON — A prominent group of health professionals, community leaders, and healthcare-equity advocates have launched a campaign to raise awareness of successful race-conscious approaches to healthcare delivery in Massachusetts that target institutional racism and can bring transformational change to healthcare systems.

The campaign will educate hospital administrators, lawmakers, social-justice advocates, communities, and more about the value of race-conscious interventions, such as those implemented under the Healing ARC framework. The Healing ARC is a collaborative approach that helps rectify patient-care inequities, while countering the notion that race-blind solutions effectively fix systems broken by racism.

“We are advocating for an approach to address racism in healthcare by enlisting the community and healthcare institutions as equal partners, equally motivated to identify and address health and healthcare inequities with race-conscious strategies that are absolutely necessary for people confronting the effects of structural racism that is killing them, their family members, and their friends,” said Dr. Camara Jones, a member of the Healing ARC campaign’s advisory committee.

The Healing ARC framework incorporates the three necessary stages for eliminating racism: naming it, documenting it, and collaborating to repair the harm. Currently, Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) in Boston is using the Healing ARC framework to eliminate an inequity in patient-care delivery.

In 2015, a study by physicians at BWH found that, over a 10-year period, on average, fewer Black and Hispanic patients diagnosed with heart failure in the Emergency Department were admitted to the specialty Cardiology unit that improves patient outcomes. In response, the physicians developed a race-conscious, Healing ARC care model to address the racial inequities and enhance accountability.

Under a pilot program at BWH, when the emergency room treats a person of color with heart failure, a new, more equitable process is in place. Through the pilot, which began earlier this year, results show the digital tool is impacting the admission of Blacks and Hispanics to Cardiology.

The campaign’s objective is to expand Healing ARC applications to more hospitals, healthcare facilities, and public-health institutions, while explaining why the care delivery model at BWH is needed, what it can achieve, and why race-conscious interventions are required to dismantle racism in healthcare.