When Health Inequities Become Startling Realities
Bright minds from across the world continue to examine how to overcome the challenges of health equity. A recent study in the Annals of Internal Medicine offers insight into options to better meet preventative care needs, but anyone who has researched health equity knows the issue is complex and requires teamwork.
As an integrated network, Sutter Health has been exploring ways it can help identify and address disparities, as well as develop interventions for patients. Sutter developed a Health Equity Index, which can help unlock barriers some patient groups have historically faced in healthcare–and empower other health systems to better understand and address their patient populations’ needs.
Sutter’s HEI is the first implemented health equity metric that uses real-time, health system data combined with external demographic, prevalence and use statistics to help address disparities and underlying causes. “Our work to address health equity is designed to measurably improve and optimize healthcare outcomes for all our patients while reaching beyond our facility walls,” said Stephen H. Lockhart, M.D., Ph.D., Sutter Health’s chief medical officer.
its first internal test drive, the HEI revealed some telling truths: Sutter identified
and quantified inequities in ambulatory patient care settings for conditions such
as asthma and diabetes. This helped inform and create programs pinpointing some of
the underlying needs of patients with asthma and diabetes in various communities.
Sutter’s HEI is gaining notice and was named a winner in the Business Intelligence Group’s 2020 BIG Innovation Awards–the only health system to do so. Sutter was also named an honoree as part of AHA’s 2019 Carolyn Boone Lewis Equity of Care Awards.
Dr. Lockhart points out, “Being an integrated network has enabled us to achieve top-level performance in quality, and we expect integration will offer the same benefits on health equity outcomes, providing useful insights for best-practice models and innovative tools – like the health equity index – that can be shared and implemented nationally.”
For more information about Sutter Health’s commitment to health equity, contact us.