Population and Public Health

Accelerating Equity in Health Plans

Working toward health equity in health plans
 

 

Accelerate Health Podcast host Indu Subaiya, MD, MBA, co-founder and president of Catalyst @ Health 2.0 and senior advisor to HIMSS, and her guest Karen M. Dale, RN, MSN, market president, AmeriHealth Caritas District of Columbia, explore supporting diversity, equity and inclusion within health systems and health plans, and how all three reinforce each other in helping organizations achieve equitable health outcomes. As the United States undergoes demographic shifts toward a nation where a majority of citizens will be from minority races, we explore what that means for the healthcare workforce and how leaders can build a workforce that celebrates this diversity so that it can reflect and better serve its community.

We explore the journey that individuals and organizations must be on to identify behaviors and biases, and the constant learning and recalibrating necessary to make individuals and organizations better and more responsive to what is occurring in the workplace and the marketplace. We also discuss the role that the broader education system and other parts of society must play to help people begin this journey earlier in life so they are ready to work in and serve a more diverse market. Many of the actions that healthcare organizations can take, whether health plans or delivery organizations, may have little to do with healthcare on their face, but can help overcome the challenges that create inequities in access. This episode of the podcast also discusses how healthcare organizations must address social determinants of health as much as clinical outcomes as part of a holistic program of health promotion, and how COVID has exasperated economic concerns and is creating challenges in housing and hunger, which impact health directly.

For healthcare organizations, the importance of leading diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives from the top is highlighted, along with the need to understand the impacts of legacy issues in society that can and are manifesting as the inequality in COVID impacts and outcomes. For health leaders working to promote health equity, the outsized impacts we are seeing in communities of color comes as no surprise. The challenge for healthcare leaders is not only what to do about the problems in front of us today, but how to build organizations that actively combat these problems when a pandemic isn’t raging.

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