American Health Association | Institution for Diversity and Health Equity

The American Health Association's interactive site guides community leaders on a journey to transform hospitals and health systems into a more equitable health ecosystem.


American Hospital Association (AHA) serves nearly 5,000 nationwide hospitals, health care systems, care providers, and 43,000 individual members. It ensures that their perspectives and needs are heard through advocacy and representation in policy development, regulatory debates, and judicial matters. AHA focuses on being a trusted thought leader by disseminating evidence-informed practices, resources, and innovations for sustainable health care. 


Health inequity is an undeniable cause of persistent health disparities across the U.S. Marginalized populations, namely BIPOC communities, do not have equal access to high-quality education, housing, employment, healthcare, and other resources which lead to higher rates of health disparities. Many leaders are looking for support in addressing the inequities that live within health systems, for example: physicians and staff don't reflect the diversity of communities being served, there are gaps in understanding healthcare, and there are investment gaps in health systems serving under-resourced communities. 

AHA strives to promote better health among marginalized populations through a new Health Equity Roadmap. The roadmap guides healthcare executives, DEI champions, and community stakeholders in cultivating oppression-free health ecosystems. It aims to achieve impact by sharing their continuum roadmap, resources, and examples across six domains. 

When we first met with AHA, they had already begun research on health equity models. They asked Exygy to help communicate a nuanced topic with their broader community in an understandable way. We presented our expertise in promoting health equity through strategy, design, and technical execution, and we were thrilled when AHA chose us to help bring their roadmap to life. 


Using Research to Chart the Course

In order to transform the Health Equity Roadmap into an active tool, we needed a deeper understanding of the roadmap and its goals. The Exygy team began by reviewing the roadmap’s research and its six equity domains. We supported in the facilitation of a discussion with an AHA Expert Advisory Group for feedback on the roadmap’s content, and helped AHA in synthesis and incorporating their insights into an updated draft. 

We used three sources of inspiration on how to best publicly communicate the roadmap: 

  1. An analysis of other health equity publications
  2. Interviews with stakeholders
  3. A Visioning Session which brought together stakeholders to creatively and collaboratively plan the roadmap

Because this roadmap required engagement from the public, our team recommended creating an interactive website that met the following requirements: 

  • Educational: The site needs to build each visitor’s knowledge of the roadmap’s six equity domains, inspire them to take the Health Equity Assessment, and begin a journey toward actionable steps and impact. 
  • Accessible: The site should reflect an acceptance of everyone, a sense of progression, and a recognition of institutional differences and challenges as people pursue health equity goals.
  • Inclusive: The design must be modern, with welcoming visuals that reflect diversity and care.
  • Easy to manage: The site’s structure must be adaptable to include updates and additions as part of a long-term engagement strategy, not just serve as a static resource.

Initial mock-ups to draft content and structure.
The live Health Equity Roadmap site.

Addressing Technical Barriers & Anticipating Future Needs

We met with the AHA IT team to understand their current development process and any existing constraints. Originally, we planned to build new interactive online pages within AHA’s current platform. Through our discussions, the team concluded that the Health Equity Roadmap would benefit from using more dynamic website features than the current site allowed for. 

We decided that building a new standalone site would allow us the flexibility to fully shape the site around the roadmap. Given the AHA IT team’s familiarity with Drupal already, we developed the site in Drupal. A new site ensured greater freedom and dynamism for design, implementation, and adaptation, plus a separate framework allows us to implement innovative design without extra time from the AHA IT team. In turn, AHA gained extra stability for its content management system and the ability to reuse or modify components. The editor experience remained similar to the current AHA site, so it was simple for AHA staff to use. Lastly, AHA recognized that our recommendation came from a shared long-term goal of advancing health equity advocacy with a robust, innovative and user-friendly digital presence.

Structuring and Refining the Site for a Successful Launch

AHA’s new website engages users in finding where they are in the health equity continuum.

To ensure accessibility and inclusivity of users from all backgrounds, we organized the site’s content for optimal user experience and readability. This included prioritizing content and strategizing the hierarchy of information. We developed a site map using an iterative process, by producing initial designs and gathering responses on how well they communicated content. We also conducted user testing with stakeholders to gather feedback, measure effectiveness, and anticipate future iterations. These steps are best practices for building modern websites and co-creating with the community.  

quote mark

Complicated actions are broken down into simple steps.

The final website has an easy-to-use content management system for the AHA that conveys the feeling of starting a journey and presents information in a delightful and easy-to-digest way. The new site can be integrated with their existing site, while allowing them to scale to add more features like an assessment. The roadmap is now available to all health systems and their upcoming Transformation Assessment will be available to their member network of 5,000 care systems.

quote mark

Want to work together?

We are always looking to get in touch with partners to help build healthy and resilient communities together
contact us