Concern for health equity — the idea that everyone should have an equal chance to live the healthiest life possible — has always been the domain of progressive advocates and nonprofits. In the wake of racial reckoning and growing calls to reduce health disparities in the United States, health equity is now front and center for big business.
One company investing in health equity is Deloitte, which this week announcement the appointment of Dr. Jay Bhatt as Executive Director of the new Deloitte Institute for Health Equity (DHEI) and some Deloitte Center for Healthcare Solutions (DCHS). The DCHS, which currently publishes findings and analysis in the life sciences and healthcare sectors, will serve as the research arm of the DHEI. The DHEI aims to bring together business, government and community leaders to tackle the root causes of inequalities in health outcomes.
Bhatt, a practicing internist and geriatrician and former senior vice president and chief medical officer of the American Hospital Association, will lead these research and collaborative efforts.
According to Dr. Asif Dhar, Vice President and U.S. Life Sciences and Healthcare Industry Leader for Deloitte LLP, the company has been working on health equity for some time, but saw an opportunity to accelerating its impact by launching DHEI last spring.
“By focusing on activating key decision makers to accelerate change in health equity, advancing equitable communities through place-based change, and driving health innovation and learning. ‘health equity, we think we’re about to create a domino effect,’ Dhar said. “The more organizations get involved in this critical movement, the greater the momentum for change will be.”
Examples of Deloitte’s past efforts include research on improving diversity in clinical trials, using local data to target community services in areas of greatest need, and a health equity dashboard. According to Dhar, upcoming areas of interest include biases in healthcare data and technology, community ecosystem best practices, and insights from consumer and physician surveys.
For Bhatt, work is personal.
Growing up with a front-row seat to the challenges people in underserved communities face, Bhatt was inspired not just to choose a career in medicine, but to focus specifically on diverse and underserved communities, according to the announcement. of the company.
“I have seen firsthand the impact on my patients in communities struggling to be healthy where systemic and structural issues lead to health inequities, and even with my own family losing access to health care. coverage while living with chronic illnesses,” Bhatt said via email.
Bhatt also emphasized the business case for improving health equity, citing preliminary analysis which estimates that the cost of racial inequalities in health includes $93 billion in annual excess medical costs and $42 billion in lost productivity.
Dhar says health equity is core to Deloitte’s business and embedded in the company’s tools and services.
“With a focus on sharing knowledge and evidence, integrating lived experience, leveraging data and insights, and teaming up with organizations to make an impact, together we are addressing equity by health as an outcome – one with a meaningful business solution that we hope will make a meaningful contribution to the field,” Dhar said.
Dr. Elizabeth Cote, health justice activist and Aspen Institute Health Innovators Fellow with no affiliation with Deloitte, commends Deloitte for its vision and leadership in this area. She expects investing in health equity to pay dividends for Deloitte’s own business and that of its partners.
“Employers have realized that health equity is a key predictor of their performance,” Cote said. “The business case for diversity, equity, inclusion and justice is well established. Studies reveal that the environments in which there is a sense of belonging among historically marginalized groups are those in which there is higher productivity, more competitiveness and, ultimately, a competitive advantage for the private employer. in their market.
Côté says employers who focus on health equity are likely to benefit from including and engaging a wider range of people and communities. They also have a huge opportunity to make a difference in society.
“The best version of a just society is one that ultimately has health justice,” Cote said. “If we can see ourselves as equals and remove these social constructs, these man-made barriers and obstacles for people to get their ultimate health care, then we can have the most powerful workforce or community as powerful as possible, and the employer benefits.
Deloitte’s efforts seem aligned with Cote’s vision.
“Deloitte’s goals for DCHS and DHEI are focused on accelerating change through research, knowledge exchange, engaging key decision makers, supporting innovation and driving collaborations to create a world in which health is not determined by race, gender, ability, status or zip code,” Dhar said. “A world in which everyone has the fair and equitable opportunity to realize their full potential in all aspects of health and well-being.”