Community, Corewell Health System

Spectrum Health commits to strengthening national data that helps address health disparities

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., Oct. 26, 2021—Over the next three years, Spectrum Health has committed to collecting and reviewing self-reported information from patients about their race, ethnicity, language and sex, or REaLS data, to help address health disparities on a national scale. The goal: to embed equity into quality improvement and intervention strategies within the health care industry.

Recently, the health system joined 40 other health care organizations across the U.S. and signed a national Health Equity Pledge that leverages data in addressing disparities. The pledge is part of the Health Evolution Forum which engages CEOs, policy makers and other top industry leaders in developing new strategies that accelerate progress in health care.

“Our commitment to this pledge will enable Spectrum Health to address variation and gaps in the collection, stratification and review of race, ethnicity, language and sex data,” said Lynn Todman, vice president of health equity at Spectrum Health. “This is essential to gathering the knowledge and insights we need to address health disparities experienced by our patients, members and the communities we serve.”

As part of the pledge, participating organizations have committed to the following:

  • Collecting REaLS data for at least 50% of the organization’s patient, member or customer population
  • Stratifying and reviewing collected data by the top-priority quality or access metric for 90% of major business lines and/or departments/divisions of adequate size
  • Participating in the Health Evolution Health Equity Learning Lab by sharing stratified data for select measures to facilitate anonymized benchmarking and to identify best practices for reducing disparities

While the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted and drawn widespread attention to health inequities, the issue has existed since the nation’s inception and has long been endemic. For example, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Blacks are almost 1.5 times more likely to die from heart disease than whites here in Michigan, with recent figures showing mortality rates of 520.5 per 100,000 and 365.6 per 100,000 respectively.

“We know that the challenge of health inequities predates the pandemic and is much broader than COVID-19,” Todman said. “Spectrum Health’s commitment to Health Evolution, as well as numerous other initiatives, will help move the needle to fairer, more just and equitable health outcomes.”

Other recent diversity, equity and inclusion commitments made by Spectrum Health include:

A full list of organizations that have taken the Health Equity Pledge can be found here.



People are at the heart of everything we do, and the inspiration for our long and continuing legacy of strong community partnerships, philanthropy and transparency. Our award-winning team improves health, inspires hope and saves lives across 13 counties in West Michigan. We bring together 11 hospitals—including Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, with expert care from 350+ pediatric specialists in 70+ specialties and programs—three rehabilitation and nursing centers, 120 outpatient sites and telehealth services. We are proud to work with 4,000 physicians and advanced practice providers, including Spectrum Health Medical Group, one of the largest and most comprehensive multispecialty physician groups in West Michigan.

Sarina Gleason
Media Relations
Phone: 517.256.5618