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Addressing Disparities in Health Care

February 24, 2023

The U.S. health care system has significant work ahead to achieve racial health equity.

A new analysis from Accenture reviews available data on health equity and steps forward to address disparities in care. The report cites five “interconnected obstacles where underrepresented communities are left behind by health care” and action steps for providers, payors, biopharmaceutical companies, and public health institutions.

The organization’s analysis on disparities found that inequities contributed to “over 200 million black life years lost through a reduction in life expectancy” and poorer outcomes related to infant and cancer mortality rates.

“While we know that social determinants of health account for 80 percent of an individual’s health, health care ecosystem participants still have a significant opportunity to improve individual health outcomes and combat inequities,” the report notes.

In the analysis, the researchers identified following barriers that influence health disparities:

  • Implicit bias that “affect our understanding of, and responses to, individuals and groups other than our own”
  • Lack of trust and fear in the medical system
  • Access barriers for underrepresented groups
  • Uneven quality and experience that is tied directly to “biases, trust and fear, and access barriers”
  • Racism in research and development/clinical barriers leading to lack of representation in trials and in the practice of medicine

HAP and Pennsylvania hospitals are committed to promoting health equity and addressing health disparities in care. This includes a focus on the social determinants of health that affect a wide range of health risks and outcomes.

Additionally, HAP’s Racial Health Equity Learning Action Network (RHELAN) convenes Pennsylvania hospitals and health systems to work collaboratively to identify and confront systemic inequality and structural racism in health care.