Central to the mission statement of nearly all healthcare providers is making quality care available to all, especially to those who are most in need. Included in these ranks are the poor, elderly and uninsured, for they are often without the means or support to care for themselves in times of illness and during the recovery period. During the 2018 Congress on Healthcare Leadership, Bruce Siegel, MD, president, America’s Essential Hospitals, addresses key questions that are core to improving access to care for all. He will speak during the Thomas C. Dolan Diversity Address and Breakfast, Wednesday, March 28.
Here, Siegel provides Congress attendees with a preview of his talk.
ACHE: How is the current era of value-based purchasing and outcomes-based reimbursement influencing inequity of care across the healthcare field?
Siegel: Tying payment to performance is a double-edged sword for equity and eliminating disparities. We have the potential to design systems that improve health and healthcare for the most vulnerable. That said, without accounting for the social determinants that impact their health, we also run the risk of building systems that both punish those who care for the underserved and create incentives for health systems to avoid these patients altogether. The good news is that key stakeholders are beginning to recognize these risks.
ACHE: What are some ways healthcare professionals can help realize a system where all patients are treated with dignity and have access to care?
Siegel: In their daily work, healthcare professionals can think about how unconscious biases might influence their decisions. These leaders can carefully analyze their own health systems and see if they are built to promote equity or, instead, have disparities “baked” into their design. For instance, do different patients have different experiences depending on who they are and how they interact with the system?
These professionals also have great credibility and, indeed, a responsibility in the broader society. They can serve as educators, helping their colleagues and communities to understand what they should and can do to promote equity. As leaders, they can serve as advocates at all levels of government to drive policies that move our nation closer to a future of health equity.
ACHE: What do you hope attendees will take away from your address at ACHE’s Congress on Healthcare Leadership?
Siegel: The problems of health inequity are deeply woven into our society and the fabric of American healthcare. We often do not recognize how deliberate policy decisions can create disparities. Solutions also have often stemmed from major policy changes. The creation of Medicare and Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act all have examples of these dynamics. Building a high-performing health system for a diverse nation requires health leaders to be fully engaged in creating exemplary practices and national policies.
Be sure to consider attending additional events, such as this featured breakfast session, while at the 2018 Congress on Healthcare Leadership. This is a complimentary event, but registration is required. Register today!