Equity and efficiency can go hand in hand in the delivery of health services. Providing equitable health care leads to more efficient health systems overall, as a healthier population requires less medical care. That means fewer doctor visits, lower healthcare costs per patient, and better health outcomes. Health equity means providing patients with the care they need when they need it.
Or, as the Institute of Medicine (IOM) report states, equity in health means “providing care that does not vary in quality due to personal characteristics, such as gender, ethnicity, geographical location and socioeconomic status”. This includes equitable (fair) access to health professionals, healthy eating, a safe living environment, and the ability to be well in all aspects of life, from work to family life and health care. Since the perceived quality of health care (or lack of it) can significantly affect health outcomes (e.g., RWJF, as part of its Culture of Health Initiative3), it called on the Health and Medicine Division of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine to help delineate the causes and solutions to health inequalities in the United States. Health Catalyst is a leading provider of data and analytics technology and services for healthcare organizations, committed to being the catalyst for an improvement in mass, measurable, and data-based healthcare.
Fortunately, there are effective and proven steps that organizations can take to address their health inequities and disparities (p. (e.g., an important step towards equity in health is through education, aimed at individuals, policy makers and health professionals). Chapter 3 analyzes how structural and institutional inequalities have led to disparate health outcomes and highlights the historical problems that continue to affect health outcomes today, as well as the ways in which current and emerging problems ultimately affect communities. In addition to the dollar cost of health care, since health inequities contribute to the nation's overall ill health, health inequity has consequences for the United States.
While there is a risk that climate change will worsen health inequalities, there is also a great opportunity to integrate efforts to promote health into mitigation and adaptation efforts in order to support more resilient, healthy and equitable communities (Rudolph et al. Social determinants of health: these are factors that can influence a person's health, but are usually beyond the reach of a health professional. Next, health organizations must address disparities with proven interventions designed for their disadvantaged populations. Health care has a long way to go to effectively address health inequity, but there are evidence-based approaches to begin addressing or continuing the battle against health inequities.
Health organizations must include health equity as a strategic priority, expand the reach of health equity, invest in structures and processes that improve health equity, and dismantle institutionalized racism. As explained later in this chapter, studies on health inequities have focused primarily on health disparities between racial and ethnic populations. Addressing the root causes of health inequities, such as the social determinants of health, is important, in part, to help enable sustainable interventions through the participation of multiple sectors and the simultaneous treatment of multiple health outcomes. .
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