New research from Accenture and HIMSS Market Insights reveals that 93% of U.S. healthcare executives believe that health equity initiatives are important and 89% agree that such initiatives are part of their core business strategy. However, only slightly more than a third (36%) have a specific budget dedicated to advancing their health equity agendas.

“The pandemic awakened the world to the realities of inequality that have existed for generations in our health care system,” says Ankoor Shah, management consulting principal director and health equity lead at Accenture. “We saw firsthand how disproportionately the pandemic impacted vulnerable populations. Every health care leader should be asking themselves: ‘How can I be a force to reduce health disparities?’ Our research underscores that this huge challenge is moving front and center on health executives’ radar screens.”

Top Three Priorities

According to the research, the top three health equity priorities are:

  1. Reducing health outcome disparities among patient populations;
  2. Understanding patient demographics including education, housing, access to transportation and other social determinants of health;
  3. Improve the attitude, behavior, biases and approach of providers and support staff.

Lauren Goodman, senior insights director with HIMSS, says, “Addressing the disparities in health is essential to improving health outcomes. It’s encouraging to see that half of the healthcare leaders surveyed have a health equity plan in place, and more than 50% of them have a specific budget dedicated to advancing their agenda. It’s also important to note that another one-third of the remaining respondents say they will implement a plan within the next 12 months.”

“We need to close the gap between making health equity a priority and making it a reality,” Shah adds, regarding health equity initiatives. “Market-leading healthcare companies understand that actualizing this agenda is not only the right thing to do but also grows their business. Technology, in concert with community partnerships, should be leveraged to catalyze health equity agendas in order to reduce disparities in care access, experience, and ultimately outcomes.”