Pressman A, Lockhart S, Petersen J, Robinson S, Moreno M, Azar KMJ., Health Equity. 3(1):92-98. doi: 10.1089/heq.2018.0092. eCollection 2019., 2019 Apr 03
Disparities in outcomes for preventive and primary health care services often result when vulnerable patients rely on episodic encounters for emergency services that do not meet their long-term health needs.
Understanding health outcomes in socially or economically disadvantaged subgroups is crucial to improving community health, and it requires innovative analytics and dynamic application of clinical and population data. While it is common practice to use proxy indicators, such as quality of life and mortality, when discussing health equity, these have shown limited utility and are rarely applied at a population-level within a health system.
Therefore, we designed and implemented an index, calculated as the ratio of observed-to-expected encounters, to identify and quantify health inequalities in health care systems. Providing equitable care, as measured by health outcomes, is analogous to precision medicine applied to social determinants.
For health systems, the use of this index will facilitate the development of specially-tailored interventions to address inequity and provides a tool to measure the impact of such programs.