Health equity exists when patients have a fair and just opportunity to be at their healthiest. Helping patients achieve health equity requires removing obstacles—including inequalities around race, ability, income, gender identity and sexual orientation—that place some populations at a disadvantage when it comes to accessing consistent, quality health care.

According to the Health Catalyst article “Health Equity: Why it Matters and How to Achieve it,” the first step in developing a strategy is to recognize that inequities exist within clinical environments.

The literature shows that clinicians have biases toward certain populations that impede their ability to provide effective care. Over time, these biases become institutionalized and harder to eliminate. Given that the perceived quality of healthcare (or lack thereof) can significantly impact health outcomes (e.g., adherence to medical advice, cancer screening recommendations, and medication regiments), many health systems find themselves in a self-perpetuating cycle of health inequities and poor health outcomes.

The article goes on to state that an effective strategy includes addressing social determinants of health and treatment disparities, dismantling internal policies and norms that perpetuate race-based advantage, and partnering with community organizations where opportunities exist (such as around transportation and food resources). 

Read the full article for more information, including steps you can take within your organization to address disparities.