Health equity means “the attainment of the highest level of health for all people, where everyone has a fair and just opportunity to attain their optimal health regardless of race, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic status, geography, preferred language, or other factors that affect access to care and health outcomes.“, as described by the Centers of Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS)
Equity is one of the domains of health care quality, as as such its foundational work plan relies on the collection of data related to the patient population served in a given geographic area in order to create a work environment that is open-minded and responsive to cultural and linguistic needs, as well as attentive to any opportunity that can reduce disparities, improve quality of care and lead to positive patient outcomes.
The provision of better care relies on the understanding of patients’ social sphere and social determinants Because both social sphere ( ie. family support, relationship at work, etc.) and social determinants of health (SDOH) (ie., housing, transportation, language and literacy skills, etc.) have a major impact on people’s health, well-being, and quality of life, they cannot be ignored.
Key elements of social sphere and social determinants are learned every day by providers’ engaging with patients.
As patient-centered care becomes more and more at the center of every care model, health organizations need to support active involvement of patients and their families in the design of new care models, and in the decision-related to individual options for treatment.
Because language and cultural awareness are key when communicating with patients and family members across national origin, ethnicity, health literacy, religion, health beliefs and more, the two are inseparable and need to be integrated at all levels of healthcare.
For this reason REACH is continuously working to develop training that helps organization and their healthcare workers increase awareness of bias that can impact the quality of care, and adopt strategies that can meet the diverse needs of patients and exhibit open-mindedness, respect and professionalism.
If you want to learn more, check out our cultural competence modules!