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What can the industry do to create more equality in our healthcare system?
In the midst of multiple healthcare-related crises in our country, the inequities in our healthcare system have never been more evident.
Only five months into the COVID-19 pandemic we already know that black and Hispanic people are suffering from the virus at a rate as much as three times higher than the white population. The US has the highest maternal mortality rate of any high resource country. Black women are three times more likely to die in childbirth than white women in America.
The US has among the largest income-based health disparities in the world: low-income adults are five times as likely as those with incomes above 400% of the federal poverty level to report being in poor or fair health.
These disparities are shocking for a country as advanced as the US. The problem is as deep as it is wide.
The recent racial injustice protests have encouraged so many of us to start doing the work at home: we’re expanding our reading lists, having tough conversations with family and friends (from a safe distance), and learning how to become better allies.
But are we doing the work at work? This isn’t just taking place in our clinics and hospitals. It’s systemic, but it’s not hopeless.
We must take action.
We, the healthcare industry, can democratize health information and education to help ensure that all patients have better outcomes. We can be there for patients when doctors can’t. We’re not just in their medicine cabinets, we’re in their phones, computers, and televisions.
Let’s create comprehensive disease state education so patients can fully understand their conditions, truly participate in shared decision-making, and manage their health over the long term.
Let’s build personalized care plans to provide patients with solutions that address all aspects of their disease. Let’s support the people looking after our patients through their illness with education and resources. Let’s explain the complicated world of benefits coverage and insurance while emphasizing the financial resources available to patients.
Let’s translate what healthcare providers say into a language patients can understand. Let’s educate patients on how and why treatments work. Let’s ensure adherence by setting patients up for success.
When our campaigns come to life, let’s make responsible casting decisions, with diversity in mind.
And, finally, let’s stop making assumptions about media consumption. The people who need this information the most are often the people who get it the least.
This isn’t an exhaustive list, it’s just the beginning. There is so much work to do, but we have to start somewhere.
Even if we didn’t create this disparity, we have the ability, and a responsibility, to do something about it.