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Case Study

How Seattle Children’s Created a Data Infrastructure to Advance Health Equity

10 Minute Read


The challenge

Advancing health equity has become an increasingly important goal of health care organizations across the nation, but many lack the data infrastructure needed to identify and address disparities in clinical performance.

The organization

Seattle Children’s Hospital is a 407-bed pediatric and adolescent medical center that serves children in Washington, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho. They have 10 regional clinics, 23 outreach sites and clinics, and 12 affiliates.

The approach

Seattle Children’s Hospital stratified all core quality metrics by race, ethnicity, and language when available to identify disparities in clinical outcomes. Then leaders set short- and long-term goals to address the identified inequities and selected key performance indicators to track their progress. To share progress and promote accountability across the system, Seattle Children’s Hospital displayed this in their quality dashboard.

The result

Since implementation, Seattle Children’s Hospital experienced an increase in interpreter use, and a decrease in missed appointment and rescue event inequities. Additionally, they’ve advanced their data culture to drive improvements aimed at addressing health inequities.



How Seattle Children’s created a data infrastructure to advance health equity

In 2007, Seattle Children’s created its Center for Diversity and Health Equity. The center is dedicated to reducing health inequities and improving the lives of all patients, families, research participants, and the community. To advance its health equity work, Seattle Children’s Hospital built a data infrastructure to identify and address health disparities.


The four components

Leaders at Seattle Children’s Hospital identified four critical components to building an improvement infrastructure to identify and address health disparities in their patient population.

  • Component

    Stratify all quality measures by patient demographic data to identify disparities

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  • Component

    Establish short- and long-term goals to address disparities

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  • Component

    Share progress in achieving goals

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  • Component

    Sustain long-term progress through a clearly defined accountability structure

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While it can take years to reduce disparities, in the short-term Seattle Children’s implemented the following interventions:

  • An equity review process for each CLABSI event
  • Culturally responsive central line education and facilitated equity discussions on rounds, including informing patients and caregivers about care plans to promote shared decision making and trust building.
  • Interpretation services for all communication with patients and caregivers who speak a language other than English through interpreters, telephone interpretation, and an option for iPads in ambulatory settings and the Emergency Department
  • Translation of its MyChart portal to Spanish
  • Enhanced text appointment reminders 7-days prior, 2-days prior, and the day of the scheduled appointment to caregivers and patients.1

Seattle Children’s continues to track progress in reducing disparities and advancing health equity.


[1] Texts are sent in English, Spanish, Somali, Arabic, Vietnamese, Russian and Simple Chinese. Previously the offered languages were Spanish and English.

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