What is health equity, why does it matter and what can you do about it?
Health inequity is one of the most dangerous issues facing healthcare today. It refers to the health disparities that create gaps in healthcare for different groups of people.
As it pertains to healthcare, you can view the stool as how much care a patient is getting. For example, you would give a patient with cancer more care than a patient with no preexisting conditions, provided that they both came into your facility with the same complaint.
What Determines Health Equity?
Economic Stability
The Federal Reserve reports that 39% of Americans don't have enough money on hand to cover a $400 emergency. For patients without health insurance, an emergency room visit typically costs from $150-$3,000 or more.
Neighborhood & Physical Environment
If you have nowhere to live, you’re more likely to have health problems. If you have no way to get to the doctor’s office, you’re not likely to go. Safety, walkability, and local geography also play into how your physical environment shapes you. It’s important to have landmarks like parks and playgrounds. Areas without these amenities are saturated with more chronic illnesses.
Education is one of the biggest barriers to health. If someone doesn’t know that they’re sick, they will not go to the doctor. It also matters that we educate people about good and bad habits. People may not understand what processed foods are or what smoking does to your body. Resources and education are too often not available to non-English speaking minorities as well.
Food insecurity still exists in the United States. People without access to healthy food are more likely to have health complications and suffer from chronic illness. People who don’t have any food are even worse off. Without essential vitamins and nutrients, their bodies are more prone to catching viruses that a well-fed body could fend off.
Community & Social Context
Stress and discrimination can harshly affect one’s mental, emotional, and physical health. Having community programs can help people control their health and build better habits. Not having the support of a community that understands your specific life experience can take a huge toll on an individual’s mental health.
Healthcare System
The availability of good healthcare matters. We need to implement quality physicians, quality medical supplies and quality health systems across the United States. This includes ensuring that we have bilingual providers who can help people of all kinds receive the care they need.
What can you do about health equity?
  • Learn how health systems are focusing on health equity, which is leading to better outcomes, enhanced patient experiences and lower costs.
  • How to use population health data to collaborate and embark upon place-based interventions to increase population-level health improvements.
  • Learn to establish and build community trust.
  • Learn about a new framework for advancing racial justice and equity in health care.
  • How to use FHIR to share SDOH information and other relevant information with outside organizations for the purpose of coordinating services and support to address SDOH related needs.
  • Learn about coded data elements needed for interoperability using nationally recognized terminology standards and HL7 FHIR-based open APIs.
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