Health disparities are pervasive and persistent across the country. The goal of this report, a collaboration between ZS, the Healthcare Leadership Council (HLC) and its membership community, is to gain deeper insight into these disparities and, more importantly, identify effective measures to reduce them. This work is focused on addressing U.S.-specific disparities in the quality of care within a broader health equity context. We first identify top issue areas across healthcare and provide recommendations for individual organizations as well as specific sectors of healthcare.
The barriers to health equity have several components. Our work and our report highlight and prioritize the following challenges:
- There are numerous data collection, data sharing and outcome measurement standards that confound insights into health disparities. This inhibits collaboration across organizations and sectors.
- There is a shortage of strong forums for the sharing of data, insights and best practices across organizations and sectors.
- The system provides insufficient training and incentives for individuals and organizations to adopt behaviors that bolster health equity. For example, at an individual level, there is ambiguity around how to collect data from patients. At an organizational level, there is minimal reimbursement to providers for nonclinical interventions.
- Certain populations and afflictions are less likely to benefit from investments in research and development (R&D) and are less likely to be represented in clinical development.
- Regulatory restrictions, such as Stark and anti-kickback laws, limit partnerships due to the potential for uneven value transfer between organizations.
- There is a lack of sustainable funding for health equity endeavors, particularly for interventions developed with community-based organizations (CBOs).
There are no silver bullets for these issues, but as healthcare stakeholders there are actions we all must take. Reflecting this philosophy, ZS and HLC created recommendations to address these barriers at the individual organization level, a healthcare sector level and industrywide level.