Cultural Competence & Health Equity

“The successful implementation of cultural competency initiatives to achieve high quality, culturally competent, patient-centered care requires an organizational commitment with a systems approach toward cultural competency. Addressing both organizational and clinical aspects are important factors in providing culturally competent care.” (National Quality Forum)

Health Share of Oregon’s commitment to health equity and cultural competence is driven by our commitment to our members and to our community. We agree with the statement above, and have worked since our formation to provide integrated health services that are culturally and linguistically appropriate and that decrease health disparities.  Within months of beginning operations as a CCO, Health Share’s leadership determined to convene a multi-stakeholder Cultural Competence Workgroup comprised of leaders from our founding health system partners, Community Advisory Council members, and community to support this commitment. 

In 2013, the workgroup established priorities which included identifying baseline data about current practices, policies, and procedures that impact cultural competency and health equity. The group supported the development of a five-section Organizational Assessment for Cultural Competence & Health Equity to collectively measure how we are providing effective, equitable, understandable, and respectful care and services that are responsive to diverse cultural health beliefs and practices, preferred languages, health literacy, and other communication needs. The assessment was conducted by Health Share and our physical and mental health Risk Accepting Entities (RAEs) as well as several provider partner organizations including two FQHCs.

In 2014, Health Share’s Cultural Competence Workgroup worked closely with Health Share staff to analyze the assessment findings in order to identify needs, assets, and areas for improvement. An improvement plan was developed to begin to mark a road map for measuring and reporting cultural competency in alignment with preferred practices designated by the National Quality Forum (NQF) and the newly revised CLAS Standards released by the National Office of Minority Health in 2013.

Our priority areas for 2014-2015 include strategies to: 

  • Develop informed and committed champions of cultural competency throughout Health Share and affiliate organizations to increase alignment on policies, practices, and procedures that impact cultural competence and health equity.
  • Identify and implement a best practice approach for assessing and improving written communication materials for members.
  • Support RAEs and providers to appropriately access qualified and certified Health Care Interpreters.This plan locates most measures of improvement at the systems level. Ultimately, our improvement efforts are focused on changes that are part of closing the gap in health outcomes among Health Share members and improving health outcomes for all.