What is health equity?
There’s no one definition, but a 2017 report from Robert Wood Johnson says health equity ensures that “everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible.”
How do we do that? The definition goes on:
“This requires removing obstacles to health such as poverty, discrimination, and their consequences, including powerlessness and lack of access to good jobs with fair pay, quality education and housing, safe environments, and healthcare.”
Why is achieving health equity important?
Providing equitable care means considering a person’s circumstances, culture, and beliefs so services can be delivered to allow people to achieve optimal health.
If all aspects of a person’s life are not considered amidst their overall health, they may experience health disparities resulting in worse outcomes and thus a poorer quality of life.
Health disparities are not just harmful, but expensive.
Disparities in the U.S. account for approximately $93 billion in excess medical care costs and $42 billion in lost productivity. Closing the racial equity gap in the United States could mean gains of $8 trillion in GDP.
What is a health disparity?
According to Healthy People 2020, a health disparity is a particular type of health difference closely linked with social, economic, or environmental disadvantage.
Although there has been progress in eliminating some health disparities, certain populations are still disproportionately impacted by gaps in care and experience worse health outcomes. Systematically identifying and addressing disparities is important for improving health and well-being of every individual, and results in a more positive healthcare experience.
What causes health disparities?
The causes of health disparities are complex and interdependent.
Certain populations, such racial and ethnic minorities, those with disabilities, in rural areas and those who are socioeconomically disadvantaged, are more likely to experience disparities in the care they receive compared to their counterparts living under different circumstances.
Obstacles such as provider bias, inaccessible equipment in the provider office, or lack of language interpreter services for those with limited English proficiency can make it difficult for people to navigate the healthcare system. Social factors such as where a person lives or works can also have a greater impact on their health than the healthcare they receive.
How we are incorporating this into our work?
The IPRO QIN-QIO is committed to a culture of equity in all the work that we do. You can join us to help improve the quality of care for individuals and families in our communities by embedding health equity into your organization.