Bringing equity to healthcare

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Leaders of healthcare ACOs spoke about how their institutions are bringing equity to care they provide.

The inequities of the healthcare industry have been laid bare by the COVID-19 pandemic, but what actions can a practice take to make their care more equitable?


As part of the NAACOS Spring 2021 Conference, the leaders of three affordable care organizations gathered to discuss programs aimed at making the care they provide more equitable. The speakers were: Jennifer Houlihan, vice president of value-based care and population health at Wake Forest Baptist Health; Reinhold Llerena, MD, president of AMITA Health Group; Aleta Rupert, program manager of accountable health community at Amita Health; and Yolanda Rodriguez, BSN, RN, vice president of care and disease management at

Southwestern Health Resources.

Some of the strategies shared in the session included:

  • Houlihan says that in an effort to provide equity in the acute social needs of those in their community at or near the poverty line they have implemented a community resource hub, a pilot program used to screen for social determinants of health in the community, and a program which partners with local farms and non-profits to provide and deliver fresh produce.
  • Wake Forest also addresses the needs of employees through an assistance program that offers rent or mortgage assistance, utility bill assistance, meal vouchers, and various gift cards.
  • AMITA Health is what’s called a “bridge organization” as part of the Accountable Health Community Model program which screens beneficiaries for five core health-related social needs: housing, ability to pay for utilities, food insecurity, transportation, and violence. The program’s goal is to identify these issues and resolve them.
  • Southwestern Health Resources’ social determinants of health program supports other programs from the organization such as their patient outreach center, care management, disease management, disease management, transitions of care, and their pharmacy.