Fostering health equity amongst healthcare organizations is crucial in filling the gap left by the pandemic and restricted access to healthcare services. Healthcare organizations should prioritize strategies aimed at increasing access to equitable healthcare services. It means ensuring that the healthcare services offered by your organization can be accessed by everyone equitably in its geographic reach. Foster Health Equity-
This article discusses four strategies aimed at prioritizing Foster Health Equity amongst healthcare organizations.
Table of Contents
1. Develop Equitable Healthcare Programs
While there is no shortage in the healthcare workforce, the mismanagement of the pandemic has shown gaps in the healthcare workforce and programming that need to be filled. Healthcare organizations must prioritize community-based research for developing programs to address inequities – what we call evidence-based programming. This methodology emphasizes understanding the community’s operational context. Research has shown programs tailored to societal needs yield a more significant positive response from the beneficiaries.
These programs are often implemented through healthcare workers and community-based volunteers. The program aims to increase community engagement and gain the community’s trust in the offered healthcare program, making healthcare services equitable. However, it’s crucial to train the workforce and build their expertise to execute such programs strategically.
There are now master’s in healthcare offered by universities for healthcare professionals to address this. And since these programs are flexible, healthcare professionals can complete them while continuing work. They cater to the needs of healthcare professionals by offering distance learning that working healthcare professionals can accommodate in their busy schedules. These programs’ structured and accommodating nature enhances healthcare professionals’ capacity to develop evidence-based programs.
2. Provide Equitable Healthcare Services
Inequity is rampant in the healthcare sector, especially concerning the distribution of health services. Healthcare organizations must prioritize low-income and impoverished households in their programming. Besides this population, they should prioritize marginalized people in general. In the context of healthcare, marginalized populations include women and children, adolescents or youth, no-income households, transgender communities, persons with physical or mental disabilities, and migrant populations.
These groups have been traditionally deprived of equitable healthcare access and have suffered heavily during the pandemic. Hence, this strategy should increase access to essential healthcare services alongside the general populace. New avenues for reaching these groups should be considered, such as online mediums and helplines.
Studies have shown that online and mobile resources effectively raise awareness around critical health problems amongst marginalized groups. At the same time, these mediums can also successfully connect them with service delivery points for availing services. Furthermore, innovative avenues for service provision can be deployed, e.g., online consultations and home-based healthcare services.
3. Address Societal Barriers to Equitable Healthcare Access
Various societal barriers restrict individuals’ access to healthcare services. These barriers are often broadly labeled as the social determinants of health. A significant barrier to equitable healthcare access is economic equality within the community. Research has shown that the income level of individuals restricts those in low-income households from accessing healthcare services.
Another barrier is the geographic distance of people living in remote or rural areas. Lack of infrastructure in rural areas deters individuals from accessing healthcare facilities and can cost someone their lives due to the distance they have to travel. The next barrier is less awareness of various healthcare issues and related services. Since general education doesn’t cover this, people learn about healthcare through hearsay and adopt healthcare behaviors by observing their community norms.
This strategy focuses on unpacking these barriers in your operational context and addressing them through equitable healthcare programs and services.
4. Partner with Community and Sectoral Stakeholders
All in all, healthcare organizations should seek two-fold partnerships to increase the reach and scope of their work. Firstly, these partnerships should be formed with key stakeholders in the organization’s active communities, expanding the community’s trust in your programs. Similarly, you can partner with and bank on influential community leaders to act as ambassadors for seeking healthcare and endorsers of your healthcare services.
Secondly, you should partner with significant entities and individuals in the healthcare sector. It allows you to seek endorsement, not of your services, but your equitable ethos and strategies to healthcare programming. Advocacy of health equity is critical to initiating communal and sectoral changes to achieve health equity.
This article enlists four strategies to foster health equity as a goal amongst today’s healthcare organizations. In today’s time, it’s indispensable to address the gaps and damages caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and its mismanagement by healthcare organizations. The first two strategies emphasize developing equitable healthcare programs that utilize community- and evidence-based approaches and ensure fair access to healthcare services under the program. The program should focus on reaching marginalized populations facing the most considerable inequities in accessing healthcare services.
The third strategy emphasizes identifying and addressing societal barriers to equitable healthcare access of people. Lastly, the fourth strategy emphasizes working collaboratively by forming partnerships at the community and sectoral levels to achieve health equity.