Naming and Addressing Systemic Inequities in Healthcare
In recent years, the healthcare sector has increasingly accounted for the impact of social determinants on people’s health and well-being. As health systems introduce new initiatives focused on essential needs like food security and safe housing, implementers and evaluators alike are beginning to understand the many systemic inequities and policies that perpetuate important social and environmental determinants of health. Naming and understanding these systemic factors — along with a willingness to address them — is essential to any healthcare delivery or public health organization’s efforts to tackle disparities and improve health outcomes.
The systemic challenges health systems face are significant, but not at all new. By building from the foundational work of longtime health equity advocates, health systems stand to have a greater impact on the health and well-being of all patients, including those who come from often-overlooked and marginalized communities.
These issues were the subject of a recent panel discussion hosted by Health Leads’ Collaborative to Advance Social Health Integration (CASHI), a convening leaders who are focused on SDoH initiatives. Anchored by health equity advocates Jaye Clement, Tenisha Gaines and Da’Na Langford, the discussion extracted lessons from the panelists’ respective efforts to address racial inequities in their health systems and communities, along with examples of their work on the front-lines.