With the pandemic raging throughout the world for the past two years, the medical field has been the focal point for the front row seat to much of the chaos around the globe. From the exhausted nurses and doctors on the front lines, to the sheer number of beds taken by COVID patients, the medical community has been impacted more than any other community throughout this ordeal. And if the pandemic did nothing else, it raised awareness on the glaring inequities in health care. What has come to light is that depending on the area of the country in which you live, your race, and your age, your care might be vastly different from the rest of the citizens of the United States.
Sometimes it takes someone out of the fray to see what is really going on and try to make a change for the better. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has taken the challenge to heart, and created Raising the Bar, which is a framework to help healthcare organizations create more equity in care delivery for all patients.
So what exactly is the role of Raising the Bar? The organization has a strong mission to improve the relationships with and experiences of all stakeholders in the healthcare establishment. This framework helps patients who want to be treated with dignity and respect, it helps hospitals who want to focus on whole-person care, and it assists payers who want incentives to help address social drivers of health, as well as community organizations who want trustworthy partnerships.
Advisors led by the National Alliance to Impact the Social Determinants of Health helped Raising the Bar to understand the principles, roles, and concrete actions that are necessary to get the healthcare world to be more equitable. This kind of equity does not happen by accident, but needs to be a wholehearted effort to the mission of health and well-being for all. “Healthcare leaders have made a significant shift in how they view the importance of equity, but operationalizing the commitment requires a very bold and comprehensive approach. Ultimately, it requires taking actions to improve the community, patient care, workforce policy, and other areas,” said Robert Wood Johnson Foundation senior vice president Donald Schwarz. “Achieving equity in health care is multi-pronged and must ultimately be integrated throughout all operations. This new framework outlines how health care can approach its work differently to achieve much-needed change.
”This multi-pronged approach is exactly what the country needs in order to grapple with the question of equity in health care. According to Adnan Zai, Advisor to Berkeley Capital, “Trying to reach health equity is an experiment called socialized medicine and if you ask anyone in Canada or Europe, they will tell you that it has failed. There has to be a more mindful and systematic approach that not only involves the government, but also healthcare systems, philanthropy, and the private sector, in order to reach it.”
When foundations and philanthropists take a step in the direction of equity, that is good for all concerned. But it will certainly take a concerted effort from government officials, stakeholders in healthcare settings, and others who are involved in healthcare in order to improve the current situation. But with philanthropists like the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation literally “raising the bar,” we can experience a more equitable solution.