Advancing Health Equity Starts with Awareness and Education

“We believe that health care equity must be addressed if we’re to improve health care access and delivery across our country." — Shaifali Ray, senior networks director, Vizient

Many events since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic have brought attention to the longstanding and pervasive health inequities across the country. We have seen how significant the effects of COVID-19 have been on our country’s most high-risk and underserved populations, exacerbating existing health disparities. For example, the Health Resources and Services Administration has designated nearly 3,500 areas as Medically Underserved, potentially impacting some 14 million individuals in those areas.

We have also seen the disproportionate economic impact of the pandemic, creating more significant gaps in employment, resulting in increased food insecurity and housing instability. “We believe that health care equity must be addressed if we’re to improve health care access and delivery across our country,” says Shaifali Ray, senior networks director, Vizient.

Vizient and our member hospitals have identified these opportunities as a call to action and something to work on in a more intentional way. “We’re focused on creating a solution to help all members on their journey to achieve health equity and improve community health, wherever they may be on that journey,” said Ray. 

Health equity leadership series

Earlier this month Vizient kicked off its new five-part Health Equity Leadership Series. “We’re really excited about the series, which will tackle different areas of health equity with insights from Vizient experts and member best practices through a variety of member-friendly formats, such as videos, podcasts and webinars,” says Ray.

In the first session (below), you’ll learn why advancing health equity matters with several tangible steps that organizations can take. Future sessions will include insights from members about how they’re identifying disparities, addressing community needs and improving the lives of the individuals in communities. We’ll cover how hospitals are utilizing data to measure and monitor progress and how they’re partnering with community stakeholders to work towards addressing social needs and structural inequities to reduce health disparities. 

Additional efforts, education and actionable solutions

In addition to the Health Equity Leadership Series, components of Vizient’s comprehensive approach to helping all members to achieve greater health equity and improve overall community health include:

  • Health Equity Analytics—A set of advanced tools, dashboards, and analyses that support health equity efforts
  • Supplier Diversity—Members are committed to economic development through greater supplier choice. Vizient supports members and suppliers who proactively seek strategic partnerships by providing expertise and robust data reporting capabilities to help them attain their goals for increased diversity and community investment
  • Health Equity Network—Member network to develop best practices, assess strategies and solutions and advance their effort toward health equity and reducing disparities
  • Health Equity Integrated Performance Solution—A series of opportunities that help members define their scope of ambition in addressing health disparities and improve access and outcomes. Opportunities include a strategy accelerator and performance improvement collaborative

In addition to working with members to improve health equity in the communities they serve, Vizient is also working with federal legislators and regulators. Included among Vizient’s efforts are communications with agencies like the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services via comments on the inpatient prospective payment system (IPPS) proposed rule, calling for more consistent social determinants of health definitions and data collection, and to ensure such information can be easily shared among engaged stakeholders. 

We’ve also provided comments to the Congressional Social Determinants of Health Caucus highlighting members’ challenges and potential opportunities related to social determinants of health. Recognizing the importance of collaboration, and that addressing this issue includes several domains in addition to health care access and quality, Vizient joined Aligning for Health. Aligning for Health is a membership association that works to address the need for integrated and coordinated programs to better-improved health outcomes for Americans.

“We know that when we bring members together, improvement happens faster than when working on their own,” says Ray. “It’s with that collaborative spirit that we’ve developed our comprehensive approach.”  Additional information about Vizient’s work related to health equity is available on the health equity webpage. Please reach out to us at healthequity@vizientinc.com for additional information or questions.

Published: October 19, 2021