Supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Raising the Bar provides an actionable framework for the entire healthcare sector to embed equity and excellence throughout its work and help achieve optimal health for all.

Faced with the COVID-19 pandemic and worsening health disparities, healthcare organizations voiced strong commitment to health equity. This framework helps institutions make progress on that commitment.

In addition to this framework, early in 2023, Raising the Bar will share a use case for its framework to improve maternal and newborn health.

The Raising the Bar framework helps healthcare leaders meet their mission. Raising the Bar identifies foundational principles that serve as healthcare’s gravitational force to continuously center equity work. Essential roles healthcare must play revolve around these principles, each with corresponding concrete actions that can improve equity and excellence.


Foundational Principles

Raising the Bar convened those who get, give, and pay for healthcare to create five foundational principles for healthcare to raise the bar on equity and excellence. The framework was crafted and shaped both by healthcare system experts and by people with lived experience of inequities.

RTB Principles

Healthcare shows a commitment to raise the bar by fully adopting and implementing the mission of improving the health and well-being of individuals, families, and communities, and putting this mission above all else.

Healthcare shows a commitment to raise the bar by providing everyone with a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible, regardless of their race, ethnicity, preferred language, gender, sexual identity, age, disability status, religion, employment, income, migrant status, and other factors.

Healthcare shows a commitment to raise the bar by recognizing its responsibility and potential as a collaborative, accountable partner with communities.

Healthcare shows a commitment to raise the bar by using and sharing resources, influence, and power in service to the community, sharing them with individuals and community organizations to the benefit of those communities’ health and well-being.

Healthcare shows a commitment to raise the bar by cultivating meaningful relationships in which the trust of individuals, families, and communities is earned, and by trusting in the ability and expertise of those individuals, families, and communities.

Essential Roles & Concrete Actions: At a Glance

Healthcare payers, providers, and organizations can play essential Roles and enact concrete Actions to put the Principles into practice.

Action 1
Actively promote and facilitate access to care for all in ways that accommodate diverse life circumstances and needs.
Action 2
Establish and sustain a trusting environment where everyone feels they are welcomed and treated with dignity and respect.
Action 3
Provide holistic, effective, high-quality care responsive to plans co-created with individuals, families, and caregivers.
Action 4
Invest in and grow leaders who advance and embed equity, quality, and value across the organization.
Action 5
Employ and cultivate a representative workforce at all levels.
Action 6
Create and sustain workplaces and jobs where employees can be healthy, thrive, and help guide effective and equitable care while feeling safe.
Action 7
Leverage procurement to ensure the diversity and well-being of contract workers.
Action 8
Engage with organizations and community residents, prioritizing those most affected by inequities.
Action 9
Build trusting relationships with individuals and organizations in the community.
Action 10
Respect and build on the expertise and power of individuals and organizations in the community.
Action 11
Actively push for and adopt payment reforms, especially reforms that align investments with the mission of improving health and well-being.
Action 12
Use healthcare’s voice to shape public understanding about the importance of health equity and dismantling racism and all forms of discrimination.
Action 13
Use power and influence to advocate for health equity in the development and implementation of public policies.
Action 14
Use investment and procurement power to contribute to the health and resilience of communities.

What People are Saying

Discover what people are saying about Raising the Bar’s framework.

Richard J. Baron, MD, MACP
President and CEO—American Board of Internal Medicine and the ABIM Foundation

Raising the Bar’s comprehensive and vetted recommendations on practices and behaviors that build trust are incredibly valuable as we strive to promote and build trust in the healthcare system.”

Bruce Broussard
President and CEO—Humana Inc

“The healthcare system and all those who participate in it – from hospitals to clinicians to patients – need those who pay for healthcare to achieve their health equity goals, making accessing and receiving care more equitable.”

Renee Cammarata Hamilton, MSW, MPA
Director, Health Improvement Team, & clinical instructor—Cambridge Health Alliance

“Everything we do is driven by conversations with partners in the community. These principles and actions were co-created with representatives from many different backgrounds and will help address health inequities.”

Karen DeSalvo, MD
Raising the Bar Stewardship Council co-convener, co-founder—National Alliance to impact the Social Determinants of Health

“Adopting the Raising the Bar framework and committing to the concrete action outlined provides healthcare a path forward.”

Jocelyn Frye
President—National Partnership for Women & Families

“We can support a brighter future for birthing people and their babies by committing to transformative change.”

Rick Gilfillan, MD
Independent consultant and former CEO—Trinity Health

Raising the Bar provides a strategic and practical framework to help healthcare stakeholders to deploy the resources and power necessary to improve health equity in the United States.”

Rachel A. Gonzales-Hanson
Interim president and CEO—National Association of Community Health Centers

“The health center movement, rooted in equity, community, and delivering comprehensive care to all, provided inspiration for Raising the Bar.”

J. Nadine Gracia, MD, MSCE
President and CEO—Trust for America’s Health

“The Raising the Bar framework is an excellent resource to help healthcare systems, public health, and community organizations work together to advance health equity and foster optimal health in every community.”

Nancy A. Myers, PhD
Vice president, Leadership and System Innovation—American Hospital Association Center for Health Innovation

“The Raising the Bar framework provides healthcare providers with a ‘north star’ to chart their course for improving health equity. The AHA is committed to continuing to produce tools and resources—including our Health Equity Roadmap—to help hospitals on their journey.”