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Pursuing equity

Main Line Health August 6, 2018 News and insights By Jack Lynch, FACHE, Barry Mann, MD, and Chinwe Onyekere

No health system in America is free of health care inequities, no matter its size, location, or patient demographics.

According to the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), a leader in health and health care improvement worldwide, the best way to overcome these inequities is for health systems to work together and learn from one another. To that end, IHI invited a select group of U.S. health care organizations—including Main Line Health—to participate in Pursuing Equity, a two-year initiative to reduce inequities in health and health care access, treatment, and outcomes, and create a blueprint for how health care can advance equity going forward.

In describing the initiative, IHI notes that “the eight health systems—diverse in size, geography and patient populations served—are working with IHI to apply practical improvement methods and tools, spread ideas through peer-to-peer learning, and disseminate results and lessons to support an ongoing national dialogue and action for improving health equity.”

Like Main Line Health, each participating organization is sharing learnings from its own foundational work, which spans programs to reduce clinical disparities, track equity in process and outcomes data, and expand quality improvement knowledge and capability.

Main Line Health’s record of addressing health care inequities, including such initiatives as the innovative Medical Student Advocate Program and an annual Health Care Colloquium, has achieved a far-reaching impact on community health, quality of care, and the systems that provide that care.

Regular meetings, such as one in October 2017 at Lankenau Medical Center, have validated that Main Line Health is on the right track when it comes to combatting inequalities, including incorporating this commitment into its strategic plan.

Making health equity a strategic priority is one of five key recommendations laid out in IHI’s white paper, Achieving Health Equity: A Guide for Health Care Organizations. Other recommendations include developing structures and processes to support equity work, deploying scientific strategies to address the multiple determinants of health on which health care organizations can have a direct impact, decreasing institutional racism within the organization, and developing partnerships with community organizations.

By bringing together some of the nation’s leading health care systems—combined with rigorous testing, learning, and idea sharing—the Pursuing Equity initiative is working to accelerate the pace of health equity improvements in the U.S. Through its participation, Main Line Health is playing a leading role in laying the groundwork for a national initiative to identify ways in which health care organizations can impact equity—from reducing clinical disparities at the point of care to enhancing employee wellness and social determinants of health.

Jack Lynch is president and CEO of Main Line Health. Phillip Robinson is president of Lankenau Medical Center. Barry Mann, MD, is chief academic officer at Main Line Health. Chinwe Onyekere is associate administrator at Lankenau Medical Center and system administrator of graduate medical education, at Main Line Health.