Accelerating change for health equity across our communities

Vinay Nagaraj
Vinay Nagaraj
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As the conversation around social determinants of health (SDOH) continues to grow in healthcare, health equity has become more and more of a hot topic. Healthy People 2020 simply defines health equity as the “attainment of the highest level of health for all people.”

The principles of health equity support that everyone deserves a fair chance to lead a healthy life and no one should be denied this chance because of their socio-economic opportunities.

The key to making improvements and achieving health equity is to eliminate avoidable health inequities and disparities wherever possible. Expanded efforts to ensure everyone has full and equal access to opportunities means more people have the chance to lead healthy lives.

You may wonder how inequality factors into American lives today. Enormous life expectancy and quality of life disparities are impacted by factors like:

  • Education Gaps
  • Income Gaps
  • Discriminatory Practices
  • Poor Housing Quality
  • Poor Working Environments
  • Structural Racism
  • Exposure to environmental risks
    • Access to public parks
    • Access to healthy food
    • Access to clean air
    • Access to safe streets
    • Access to healthcare¹

There is good news and bad news. First, the bad: gaps in access to healthy living  and socio-economic status are widening across the nation. 

The good news is that there are a growing number of initiatives and innovative programs addressing social determinants of health within and outside of the U.S. healthcare system.

Outside of healthcare, coalitions and groups are focused on shaping policies and practices that promote health and health equity. Within the healthcare system, there are initiatives specific to Medicaid that are underway that are identifying barriers and creating benefits and plans to address the biggest social needs across communities. 

Recently, a survey of Medicaid managed care plans found that a whopping 91% of all responding plans are actively addressing SDOH².

As we champion the idea that everyone deserves to attain their highest level of health and well-being, there are endless ways Roundtrip can contribute to accelerating change in our communities.  With our work in healthcare we have pioneered programs and initiatives that support health equity. Addressing SDOH is clearly in our culture and in our DNA as a healthcare organization. 

Some of the ways we have begun our health equity work include:

We are excited to be innovating transportation in healthcare, as we know transportation underpins many of the other SDOH including transportation as a barrier, itself. When people have ongoing, reliable, timely, affordable and safe transportation options access to everything opens up. We got started by addressing an extreme issue in hospitals and clinics across the nation: patient transportation. Alongside policy-makers and influencers in healthcare, we know that our role has the ability to impact in so much of a larger way. 

Not only will we innovate transportation so the sick don’t get sicker, but we are doing what we do so those who want to be healthy can be. Driving better health for all.

Sources

  1. Achieving Health Equity, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
  2. Beyond Health Care: The Role of Social Determinants in Promoting Health and Health Equity, Kaiser Family Foundation