Category Archives: Health equity

Companies and health care institutions nationwide are prioritizing digital health equity efforts 

About Karen Blum

Karen Blum is AHCJ’s core topic leader on health IT. An independent journalist in the Baltimore area, she has written health IT stories for publications such as Pharmacy Practice News, Clinical Oncology News, Gastroenterology & Endoscopy News, General Surgery News and Infectious Disease Special Edition.

A screengrab from  Executives for Health Innovation’s “The White Male Doctor Will See You Now: Utilizing Digital Health to Increase Access to Diverse Providers” panel discussion.

Can digital tools help make health care more accessible and affordable for everyone? This concept, known as digital health equity, was the subject of a two-day virtual summit hosted earlier last month by nonprofit organization Executives for Health Innovation (EHI), formerly called the eHealth Initiative. 

Panel discussions covered topics such as advancing digital health equity for rural and underserved populations, delivering maternal health equity, and how virtual care is expanding access for vulnerable communities. Recordings now available for viewing on YouTube can provide a rich foundation of story angles and knowledgeable sources for journalists. 

 Not everyone has access to cultural or linguistic-appropriate providers in their communities, said Catherine Pugh, assistant vice president of policy at EHI. But digital health could be used to ensure everyone nationwide can access a relatable physician who can provide the best possible care. 

In a panel, Pugh chaired at the summit, “The White Male Doctor Will See You Now: Utilizing Digital Health to Increase Access to Diverse Providers,” panelists from several organizations highlighted their efforts to use digital health options to treat and meet the needs of diverse communities. 

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New York City declares racism a public health crisis

About Melba Newsome

Melba Newsome is AHCJ's core topic leader for health equity and a veteran freelance journalist with more than 20 years’ experience. Her health and science features have appeared in Health Affairs, Oprah, Prevention, Scientific American, Chemical & Engineering News and North Carolina Health News.

Photo by Kenjacobsen35 via Flickr.

New York City made national news when its Board of Health declared racism a public health issue last month. According to an American Public Health Association database, 227 similar declarations have been made by governments, health agencies and elected officials around the country; 49 declarations were passed in western states and 79 in midwestern states.

Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, was the tip of the spear when it passed its declaration of racism as a public health crisis on May 20, 2019. At the time, then-Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele said the resolution was about making a public commitment to taking action. He said every decision across the county should be framed in terms of how to make a difference by addressing disparities.

In February, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13) reintroduced the bicameral Anti-Racism in Public Health Act to declare structural racism a public health crisis. The CDC has also called attention to how racism affects illness rates and life expectancy.

These important milestones should be covered as such by health equity reporters. Viewing racism as a public health and systemic issue impacting our collective health rather than personal actions that need to be addressed on a case-by-case basis is a notable shift.

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New tip sheet: The impact of climate change on health equity

About Melba Newsome

Melba Newsome is AHCJ's core topic leader for health equity and a veteran freelance journalist with more than 20 years’ experience. Her health and science features have appeared in Health Affairs, Oprah, Prevention, Scientific American, Chemical & Engineering News and North Carolina Health News.

Photo by Dr. Matthias Ripp via Flickr

I have reported extensively on the COVID-19 pandemic with many of my stories highlighting health care disparities. I quickly noticed the intersection with environmental issues and climate change. Before long, I could barely write about one topic without writing about the other they were so intertwined.

When President Biden created the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Climate Change and Health Equity (OCCHE) last summer, I realized I hadn’t made some brilliant discovery, I was simply catching up to what the public health and environmental thought leaders had known for some time. It’s hard to overstate the interconnections between climate change and health equity. The root causes and upstream drivers for both are often the same. 

This is an opportune time for journalists who aren’t already doing so to begin reporting on climate change as a health equity issue. 

When it comes to health inequities or preventable differences in health outcomes, climate change is one of the biggest public health threats today. The consequences of this global phenomenon impacts places, people and communities at the local level with low-wealth communities and communities of color caring a substantially higher burden.

The new climate change tip sheet includes research and studies to help journalists better understand the connection between health equity and climate change, resources, experts, organizations, suggested story ideas such as the impact on particular communities, as well as relevant terms and definitions. 

A national focus on health equity: important updates for reporters

About Melba Newsome

Melba Newsome is AHCJ's core topic leader for health equity and a veteran freelance journalist with more than 20 years’ experience. Her health and science features have appeared in Health Affairs, Oprah, Prevention, Scientific American, Chemical & Engineering News and North Carolina Health News.

Photo by IRRI Photos via Flickr

Social determinants are well-known factors in individual health outcomes, but the coronavirus pandemic appears to have created urgency in the White House and Congress to highlight and address health equity.

Shortly after being sworn in, President Joe Biden announced a new presidential-appointed position, the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, and a National Climate Task Force. In one of his first executive orders, Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad, Biden said he would elevate climate change and underscore the administration’s commitment to address it. Continue reading

American Journal of Public Health dedicates issue to health inequities and justice

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

Photo by Maryland GovPics via Flickr

Health inequalities have long been a concern in medicine. A robust evidence base has been growing for decades regarding social determinants — such as poverty, neighborhood proximity to pollution, and education access — that contribute to higher risk of disease and poor health outcomes. However, it wasn’t until the COVID-19 pandemic that these issues took center stage in the public eye.

A JAMA January 2021 article revealed that the hospitalization rate for Black patients with COVID-19 was more than triple that of white people, and Hispanic patients were hospitalized more than four times more often than white patients. Asian patients with COVID-19 had double the hospitalization risk of white patients. Similarly, Black and Hispanic people with COVID-19 were more than twice as likely to die from the disease than white people, and Asian patients were almost twice as likely to die than white patients.

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