A comprehensive, multi-level strategy is needed to eliminate (health) disparities. Broad sectors – including healthcare providers, their patients, payors, health plan purchasers, and society at large – should be made aware of the healthcare gap between racial and ethnic groups in the United States. — Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic disparities in Health Care.
As we approach the 20th anniversary of the Institute of Medicine’s seminal Unequal Treatment report, new catalysts have propelled us — and much of the world — forward with vigor and urgency for addressing health disparities. The social unrest of the summer of 2020 after the murder of George Floyd showed us the deeply rooted systemic change that is needed to correct centuries of inequities, and the pandemic laid bare how those inequities affect individuals’ health.
According to a 2021 Journal of American Medical Association study, “Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities Related to COVID-19,” Black, Hispanic, and Native American people in the U.S. are more likely to:
- Live in crowded conditions and multigenerational households
- Have jobs that can’t be done remotely
- Travel on public transportation
- Live with an essential worker
We know, too, that health disparities reach into all corners of our society — to older adults and people with disabilities, those who are socioeconomically disadvantaged, the LGBTQ+ communities, and many more. The time is now for all of us to press harder and move faster so that our neighbors, our families, the human beings with whom we share the world have an equal shot at the most fundamental of needs: good health.
You know this well, and your hospitals already are doing much to make a difference by leading in provider education, helping to transform care delivery, and investing in your communities.
As your association, we are committed to vigilantly adjusting the lens through which we view our work in order to embed an equity perspective in all that we do on your behalf. This includes:
- Policy, legislation, and regulation that advance equity at the federal and state levels
- Using data to measure equity, inform federal and state efforts, and create accountability
- Learning opportunities for clinical staff and leadership, and best practice development
- Facilitating community engagement through local and regional partnerships, policy development, and advocacy
In 1946, the World Health Organization proclaimed that the “highest standards of health should be within reach of all.” More than 75 years later, our work continues. As you do not waver in your mission of care, we will steadfastly infuse a health equity focus in all that we do to support you.