Why Closing Gaps in Care is Key to Health Equity

Health Plans

Why Closing Gaps in Care is Key to Health Equity

Ash Team

In an ideal world, access to healthcare would be universal and equitable, ensuring that everyone receives the treatment they need regardless of their background or circumstances. Disparities in healthcare access and outcomes persist, disproportionately affecting marginalized communities and perpetuating inequalities in health. Health plans can lead on improving health equity by closing care gaps to improve member engagement and quality scores.  

What is health equity? 

Health equity, defined by the World Health Organization as "the absence of unfair and avoidable or remediable differences in health among populations or groups defined socially, economically, demographically, or geographically," remains an elusive goal even in the United States. Achieving health equity requires addressing the root causes of health disparities and ensuring that everyone has access to high-quality, culturally competent care.

One of the most pressing challenges in achieving health equity is closing the gaps in care that exist between different population groups. These gaps can manifest in various ways, including disparities in access to healthcare services, differences in the quality of care received, and unequal health outcomes.

Closing care gaps to improve health equity 

There are multiple factors contributing to these gaps in care. Socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, gender, geographic location, disability, and other social determinants of health all play significant roles. For example, patients from low-income backgrounds may face barriers such as lack of insurance coverage, transportation issues, and limited access to healthcare facilities. Similarly, racial and ethnic minorities often experience discrimination within the healthcare system, leading to disparities in treatment and health outcomes.

Addressing these gaps in care requires a multifaceted approach that tackles both systemic and individual-level barriers. Policymakers, healthcare providers, community organizations, and other stakeholders must work together to implement strategies that promote health equity across all segments of society.

Social determinants of health 

Furthermore, addressing social determinants of health is critical for closing gaps in care and promoting health equity. This includes initiatives to address poverty, improve education and employment opportunities, provide affordable housing, and combat systemic racism and discrimination. By addressing the underlying social and economic factors that contribute to health disparities, we can create a more equitable healthcare system for all.

Closing care gaps with at-home diagnostic testing 

At-home diagnostic testing can play a significant role in closing care gaps by improving access to healthcare, promoting early detection and intervention, and empowering patients to take charge of their health. Here are some ways at-home diagnostic testing can close care gaps:

  • Accessibility: At-home diagnostic tests eliminate the need for patients to travel to healthcare facilities, which can be especially beneficial for patients in remote areas or those with mobility issues. This increased accessibility ensures that more people can receive necessary tests and follow-up care.
  • Early Detection: Many diseases and conditions are more manageable when detected early. At-home diagnostic tests enable providers to monitor patient health regularly, catching potential issues sooner and allowing for prompt medical intervention. This proactive approach can prevent conditions from worsening and reduce the need for more extensive treatment later on.
  • Convenience: Convenience is a significant factor in healthcare access. At-home tests allow patients to conduct screenings and monitor their health from the comfort of their own homes, without the need to schedule appointments or wait in crowded clinics. This convenience encourages more people to prioritize their health and adhere to recommended testing schedules.

How health plans benefit from closing care gaps 

Deficiencies in care can greatly influence the quality ratings of health plans, commonly employed as criteria to assess the efficiency and efficacy of healthcare schemes. Ratings like HEDIS and Medicare Star judge factors such as patient satisfaction and compliance with specific medical protocols and care measures. When care gaps exist, it indicates that patients aren't accessing the requisite healthcare services, potentially resulting in inferior health results and diminished quality ratings for health plans.

Chat with Ash Wellness about our gap closure solution for health plans. 

Conclusion about closing care gaps 

Closing gaps in care is not just a matter of improving access to healthcare services; it's about addressing the root causes of health disparities and promoting equity across all aspects of society. By working together to dismantle barriers and prioritize the needs of marginalized communities, we can move closer to achieving the goal of health equity for all.

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