Atrium Health Only Nonprofit Healthcare System in Nation to Win 2020 CMS Health Equity Award

02.27.2020 Atrium Health News | Diversity & Inclusion

CHARLOTTE, N.C., February 27, 2020 – Atrium Health was recognized today by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) as a 2020 CMS Health Equity Award recipient for its dedication to health equity by reducing disparities, enabling communities to achieve the highest level of health. Atrium Health is one of two organizations to win this prestigious award in 2020 and is the only nonprofit healthcare system in the nation to be recognized by CMS.

Established in 2018, the national CMS Health Equity Award recognizes organizations who have demonstrated a strong commitment to health equity by reducing disparities that adversely affect vulnerable populations such as racial and ethnic minorities, individuals with disabilities, sexual and gender minorities, and those living in rural areas. Atrium Health was recognized by CMS for delivering quality patient care, supporting medical research and education, and joining with community partners to keep the community healthy.

“It’s an incredible honor to be recognized nationally for our commitment to providing the best care FOR ALL – especially in our most vulnerable and disadvantaged communities,” says Eugene A. Woods, president and CEO of Atrium Health. “We will continue to make equity of care a central organizational priority, working in partnership with other like-minded organizations to model the change we would like to see in the world. Together, we envision a day when we can celebrate the elimination of healthcare disparities once and for all." 

To address racial and ethnic disparities, Atrium Health strengthened data and collaboration with community partners. Through a redesign of our electronic medical record (EMR), we transformed the way we collect demographic data – adding or improving questions on race, ethnicity, language preference, assigned sex at birth, and gender identity – and created a tool that organizes data by race & ethnicity, gender, and location for a variety of population health and clinical quality measures such as diabetes A1c control, blood pressure control, cancer screenings, readmissions and more.

This depth of the data was then used to implement a number of culturally appropriate interventions at primary care practices and at the community level, including a phone call campaign and working with a local Spanish-language newspaper, which resulted in an additional 200 screenings and the detection of some cancers at earlier stages. As a result, from 2018 to 2019, Atrium Health closed the disparity of colorectal screenings for Hispanic males compared to the overall screening rate for males from 9.4 percentage points to 3.5 percentage points, reducing the disparity by 62.7 percent. 

“With a mission statement that guides us to provide health, hope and healing for all, Atrium Health’s commitment to health equity is in our DNA,” says Kinneil Coltman, DHA, senior vice president and community and external affairs officer for Atrium Health. “This honor recognizes so many at Atrium Health who have worked tirelessly to improve the health of all we serve through collecting better demographic data to effectively identify disparities and developing innovative interventions to ensure equitable patient health and outcomes.” 

The award was presented to Atrium Health and UnitedHealthcare at the 2020 CMS Quality Conference on Thursday, February 27, 2020. Read more about Atrium Health’s extensive health equity advancements being made throughout many communities at:

About Atrium Health

Atrium Health, previously Carolinas HealthCare System, is one of the nation's leading and most innovative healthcare organizations, providing a full spectrum of healthcare and wellness programs throughout the Southeast region. Its diverse network of care locations includes academic medical centers, hospitals, freestanding emergency departments, physician practices, surgical and rehabilitation centers, home health agencies, nursing homes and behavioral health centers, as well as hospice and palliative care services. Atrium Health works to enhance the overall health and well-being of its communities through high-quality patient care, education and research programs, and numerous collaborative partnerships and initiatives.