Health Equity solutions help community- and faith-based organizations, employers, healthcare systems and providers, and public health agencies work together to prevent health disparities. This includes providing clear and accurate information in a culturally appropriate way.
It also involves addressing long-standing inequities like social determinants of health. For example, if a clinic only offers checkups in the morning, people who work during that time may miss out on this important health screening.
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Health Equity Assessments
Health equity assessments are a tool to help policymakers understand the potential impact of policies and proposals on the health of communities. This type of assessment helps to identify unintended consequences and provide opportunities for modification prior to the final decision being made.
Incorporate a health equity lens into your organization’s planning and decision-making processes. This can be as simple as identifying the ways your institution contributes to or dissuades people from living their best lives (i.e., the social determinants of health).
Develop and communicate an organizational plan to reduce your contribution to health inequities and support your community’s best life. This may include changes to policies, procedures, staff training and culture, funding decisions, and facility designs. This plan should be based on the results of your organization’s self-reflection and input from patients, communities, and other stakeholders. Also consider developing a mechanism to evaluate progress toward your goal of being a health equity leader.
Health Equity Training
Health Equity Training focuses on teaching professionals and community members about ways to address health inequities. It can include anything from providing services at a different time to helping individuals overcome barriers that prevent access. For example, if a clinic only offers free checkups in the morning, people who work during that time may not be able to attend. Providing alternative times like the afternoon or evening may allow everyone to benefit from the service.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recognizes the need to collect and utilize standardized data in a more robust way to improve population health. In its recently released report, The Path Forward: Improving Data to Advance Health Equity Solutions, CMS outlines current opportunities and challenges in collecting data.
NIRH partners with local organizations such as Hermanas de Sangre and TexCen Connects to provide culturally relevant support for menstruating women with rare bleeding disorders. The organization also works closely with the pro-choice Hartford GYN Center to promote proactive reproductive freedom legislation, including a bill that would prohibit fake abortion clinics and fund doula care.
Health Equity Research
Research needs to be done on how to best understand and reduce health disparities, and the underlying causes. This type of research is called health equity research.
This research is broader in scope than traditional epidemiologic studies, examining the structural barriers that prevent people from achieving healthy outcomes. These barriers include living conditions, educational opportunities, income and neighborhood characteristics, access to medical care and social services, and more.
NIH-supported centers focused on health equity work with marginalized communities to understand the constraints and barriers they face in achieving their goals. They also work with these communities to identify health-promoting assets and solutions.
Research can be a powerful tool for improving the lives of disadvantaged groups. But, it’s important to ensure that the right stakeholders are involved in the process, and that results align with strategic objectives. A recent STAT investigation revealed that some researchers were using a health equity lens to create gold mines for their own careers, but often without citing or including minority scholars as co-authors.
Health Equity Implementation
Developing policies and practices that reduce health disparities requires a health equity lens. Having an equitable framework helps ensure that all aspects of the implementation process are considered and planned for in order to create the most impact. This includes assessing and intervening on key areas, such as:
For example, if a clinic only offers checkups in the morning, it excludes people who work night shifts. Ensuring that people can access services at a time that fits their schedules is an essential component of health equity.
Existing implementation determinant frameworks can be modified to incorporate a health equity lens. Examples include adding culturally relevant factors of recipients, patient-provider clinical encounter, and societal context as health equity domains in formative evaluations. This allows teams to assess for and detect potentially determinant of differences in a given innovation’s effectiveness or scalability with marginalized groups. This can then guide the development of a targeted intervention or modification to improve the overall impact of a project.