The COVID-19 pandemic reveals that social determinants of health are essential for the good health of a population. When individuals in a society cannot afford medical care, lack paid sick leave, or food security, the entire society is at risk. This is where the concept of health equity comes into play. The method involves measuring health indicators across social strata, such as income and education. When these indicators are compared, it reveals the disparity between people in different socioeconomic positions.
As the US population becomes more diverse, policymakers have an opportunity to center health equity at the heart of the health care enterprise. They should build on early state progress, develop bold plans, and hold the health care system accountable for outcomes and decreasing inequities. By harnessing the current political climate, policymakers can make a positive difference in the lives of US citizens. A few steps are all it takes. Let’s get started!
Corporate leaders have an incredible opportunity to leverage their influence and the collective power of the industry to improve health outcomes for people of all backgrounds. By embracing health equity delivery as an integral part of their larger ESG mission, corporations can better leverage their position as a key player in the health of their communities. And what is more, this is only the beginning. In the near future, the private sector will account for nearly 20% of health care spending in the US. By working together with other agencies, they can help shape policies and programs that will promote health equity.
The healthcare ecosystem is currently fragmented, with providers operating within a fragmented ecosystem. Many providers lack the tools to meet the diverse needs of patients and are not motivated to prioritize health equity. Community-based organizations, on the other hand, provide complementary trusted resources to address the inequity of care delivery. By collaborating with community-based organizations, providers can ensure that each patient’s needs are met. This requires the involvement of all sectors in advancing health equity.
The Department of Health and Human Services has launched an initiative called “Use Every Opportunity.” The campaign offers tools to help providers administer COVID-19 vaccination more often. This office recently held a workshop for clinical leaders and heard from a hospital system that successfully implemented the COVID-19 vaccine. In addition to educating providers, the department also educates health systems about the antiviral medication and urges them to track COVID treatment.
These challenges are complex and require system-level changes. While the report highlights examples of community-based solutions to health inequity, it also points to the need for more work. Achieving health equity is possible, but it requires an ongoing commitment. The nation should recognize that it cannot achieve health equity if health disparities persist. The government should be willing to invest in the creation of health equity. Achieving health equity requires a concerted effort by all sectors and communities.