Our goal is to bridge the gap for members working toward their health equity strategy and offer real insight on the correlation between community vulnerabilities and organization performance so members can take the necessary action steps. — Karyl Kopaskie, principal at Vizient

By its definition, “acceleration” conjures images of increasing speed to move from one position to another, consistently and quickly with full impact. And yet, as with most challenges for health care organizations today, accelerating change to address an issue like inequality in access to health care is not a “one size fits all” scenario.

One innovative approach recently launched by Vizient pulled together over 50 member organizations from 27 states to participate in the Health Equity Strategy Accelerator program, a six-week analytics and education series, facilitated by Sg2 and Vizient, which helps members define and advance their health equity program by determining their organizational readiness, identifying community need and prioritizing strategic steps to move forward with plans. The strong, positive response to this first session will lead to additional health equity programming in the coming months according to Shaifali Ray, senior member networks director at Vizient.

“We have members from across the U.S. that have identified advancing health equity as a critical business imperative for their organizations,” she said. “Collaborating with health systems for a renewed emphasis on enhancing existing efforts as well as looking at ways to better align their organizations with community need, is our driving focus.”

What does the Health Equity Strategy Accelerator offer?

The Strategy Accelerator includes two key pieces:

  1. The Thought Leadership webinar that provides senior executives with key strategic insights and examples to empower leaders to guide their teams in this work.
  2. The Accelerator course and Health Equity Alignment Tool for teams building and executing on health equity initiatives at their organization. The 6-week course functions as a learning lab to provide education, peer collaboration on strategic goals and approaches to address health inequality. During the course, members have the ability to self-assess and utilize data-driven insight to validate pressing community needs and prioritize initiatives.

“The challenges for members are formidable and requires the collection and availability of data on social determinants of health to be more readily available for health care professionals,” added Karyl Kopaskie, principal at Vizient. “Our goal is to bridge the gap for members working toward their health equity strategy and offer real insight on the correlation between community vulnerabilities and organization performance so members can take the necessary action steps.”

Key insights from inaugural strategy accelerator

Data accuracy and value dominated weekly discussions in addition to a realization that limited resources exist to counter a growing awareness of the local needs that impact health equity in markets. Participants also made clear the difficulties in addressing existing data gaps along with inconsistencies in definitions, capture, and validation of health information.

“Despite a common need for improving data accuracy and standardization, perfect data should not be the enemy of good data,” Kopaskie said. “Organizations can make meaningful progress for patients and their organization by analyzing the data they have today that reveals existing disparities.”

According to Kopaskie, an example would be to compare clinical outcomes data for a given condition across different racial and ethnic groups, different age groups, or different genders. Organizational initiatives also need to be iterative and utilize metrics to guide progress and allow for innovative response or approaches to those disparities.

Communication is critical for success, too. Developing a communication strategy that tailors the message for each stakeholder is an important educational barometer. For example, session discussions centered on the need to include metrics or display dashboards in understandable formats relevant to member leadership, patient caregiving and specific, unmet community need.

What’s ahead?

The Health Equity Strategy Accelerator program is a valuable step that members can take with Vizient’s support to advance health equity in their organizations.

Achieving health equity still requires a multi-faceted approach. Health organizations need to increasingly look at existing tools and technology to accelerate improvement. Vizient has a commitment to support members in their overall health equity journey through a variety of mechanisms. From peer-to-peer networking and collaboration opportunities like the Health Equity Network, to advanced data analytics and benchmarking tools such as the Vizient Vulnerability Index to support with Community Contracting and Supplier Diversity programs. An ongoing Leadership Series and webpage connects members to program information, and along with the Strategy Accelerator, adds new resources to the educational mix toolkit.

“Aligning tools, technology and metrics as well as developing shared programmatic goals among key stakeholders can help members redirect resources to support essential programs that address social determinants of health and enhance overall community health. “Vizient will further support members in identifying their specific impact on clinical outcomes, as well as track and benchmark their impact over time. These insights can reveal opportunities for community investment, direct spending with local diversity supply chains, partnership building, funding resources and organizational alignment.

Kopaskie believes lessons learned from the program revealed both health system strengths and areas for improvement. “I am consistently impressed by our members,” she said. “Advancing health equity is a difficult challenge. Our members approached this challenge with passion, creativity, and collaborative discussion. I am excited to see what our members accomplish after having completed the accelerator.”

If you’d like to learn more, email the PI Collaboratives team.

Published: January 24, 2022