Elevating the Pursuit of Equitable Health Outcomes
Earlier this week, the Maryland Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities announced a new focus on strengthening its partnership with Maryland Medicaid, a strategy designed to boost enrollment and expand access to coverage and care.
Doing so, according to the office's director, could yield measurable reductions in Maryland's health disparities.
And those disparities are significant. For example, according to Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality data, the rate of hospital admissions in Maryland for congestive heart failure is more than double for blacks than it is for whites. For asthma, the rate is more than triple.
Our state needs to do better on health equity. This will demand serious attention and resources.
Failure to tend to these issues could undermine the potential for hospitals to succeed under the Total Cost of Care Model, which calls for not only cost savings, but also widespread improvement on chronic diseases like diabetes.
That's why your Maryland Hospital Association is in the early stages of forming strategies to help hospitals reduce health disparities, with a focus on health outcomes. For now, we're talking with experts, researching data, and determining what resources may be needed to make an impact.
Achieving health equity is about much more than the health care process itself; it also demands action on other fronts - the social determinants of health. So, no matter how this work manifests, we will need to partner with state agencies, political leaders, community organizations, and others.
Next month, MHA's Executive Committee will hold its annual retreat. One of the discussions will center on the association's strategic plan, and how to incorporate work toward achieving health equity for the people of Maryland.
Putting a spotlight on pivotal issues like health disparities is an important step toward success under our new model, whose challenges necessitate broad endeavors that can make a meaningful impact on the lives of the people we're privileged to serve.