One of the best changes in healthcare has been the above ground discussion of how various communities interact with the healthcare system and how these differences can lead to care disparities and hinders health equity. Arcadia CEO Michael Meucci recently discussed the importance of awareness into the challenges of care disparities when rolling out AI (artificial intelligence) models and solutions with Nick Stepro, Chief Product and Technology Office at Arcadia, and Dr. Kate Behan, Chief Medical Officer at Arcadia.
The full discussion is available on Spicy Takes, Episode 1. Below we summarize three ways the healthcare industry can reduce care disparities to bring greater health equity to populations.
1. Measure, then collaborate
“What is good and bad is that we’re talking about [care disparities] more than ever, but things are not getting better, so the hope is in the next ten years we can use this information and the elevated conversation to drive better outcomes.” — Nick Stepro
In the past, a lack of insight into care disparities was a huge challenge. The pandemic exposed this issue and became a catalyst for institutions to address it. But as new tech emerges, health systems need to ensure they don't exacerbate the problem.
Data can help providers uncover blind spots around care disparities. They can use data to screen for social risks and develop interventions for patients. This is where health systems need to collaborate with community organizations and governments to develop solutions to address these societal issues.
2. Develop solutions for behavioral health and addiction
“Behavioral health and addiction are a big part of care disparities and more prevalent in certain populations. Just like social risks such as inadequate housing and food insecurity exist, so does a lack of intervention around behavioral health and addiction." — Dr. Kate Behan
Digital health can play a more significant role in democratizing healthcare access. The smartphone is an equalizer for populations by providing more modalities to access care in ways that are comfortable for populations experiencing high levels of behavioral health challenges.
Digital tools are also a way to help engage populations. In North Philadelphia, for example, they couldn’t reach Medicaid populations for preventive care on the phone, but when texting patients, they had an 80% response rate. It’s one simple solution that is available now.
3. Use new models to democratize care access
“You have all these organizations like Oak Street Health and One Medical that didn’t exist and have really changed the paradigm of how you access care.” — Michael Meucci
Membership-based primary care organizations are a new way of thinking that tries to bring healthcare closer into communities and democratize access. They are being replicated across the country. But many of those models are segmented by payer and therefore not creating comprehensive care for all patients and need to evolve further in the coming years.
Reducing care disparities and increasing health equity
Data is a key component for identifying and reducing care disparities. By finding the areas of difference among populations, healthcare systems can work with community organizations and governments to create solutions that improve health equity. A trusted partner can help organizations implement a strategy for collecting the right data about the populations they serve and analyzing it effectively.