By Colin Hung | January 14, 2022
Health equity has long been a challenge, but in 2022 it promises to be a top-of-mind issue. The COVID pandemic has made it clear that health inequity has a broad impact not only on public health, but on the financial well-being of entire communities. It’s time we listen to health equity advocates and turn words into actions in 2022.
Health Equity Defined
The WHO defines health equity as: “the absence of unfair and avoidable or remediable differences in health among population groups defined socially, economically, demographically or geographically.”
Based on this definition, addressing health equity means dealing with many economic, social, and cultural issues. Put simply, it is a multifaceted problem with no silver bullet.
We are in this together
The global COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare how interconnected we are.
We have seen how unequal distribution of vaccines globally can lead to the formation of new virus mutations which spread quickly and negatively impact countries with high vaccination rates. We have also seen how factories that have to be shut down in foreign countries due to COVID has an impact on the price of goods in our local stores…if the item you want is even available.
At a local level, we have seen how unequal access to healthcare impacts absenteeism. The Omicron variant is causing swaths of people to be home sick, including teachers. In some communities, so many teachers are out, elementary and high schools are understaffed which is having an impact on the quality of education students are receiving.
We are finally waking up to what advocates have been saying for years…that health equity is not “their problem”, it’s “our problem”. What happens to one of us in terms of health (or more accurately lack of health), can impact all of us.
Predictions for 2022
I am encouraged and excited for health equity in 2022. I am seeing leaders of healthcare organizations, solution providers, patient advocates and even politicians taking action to address the inequities in health / healthcare.
We asked our Healthcare IT Today readers for their predictions on health equity in 2022. Here is a selection of the most interesting responses.
Better coordination of care across multiple organizations and teams is what Mike Dulin MD, Chief Medical Officer at Gray Matter Analytics believes will help address health inequity in 2022:
To achieve equity in healthcare, optimize care delivery, and provision evidence-based interventions, providers and payors must have advanced analytics tools that integrate insights describing the social determinants of health with clinical and claims data. These advanced analytics tools will also be required to coordinate integrated care teams that bring together medical providers with behavioral health specialists, pharmacists, social workers, and care navigators to provide holistic, patient-centered care that addresses medical and social needs.