The Office of Health Equity’s work takes place within the context of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s definition of health equity:
Health equity means that everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible. This requires removing obstacles to health such as poverty, discrimination, and their consequences, including powerlessness and lack of access to good jobs with fair pay, quality education and housing, safe environments, and health care.
Entrenched inequities exist within systems and continue to affect people’s abilities to have a “fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible.” Dell Med’s ongoing work in this area addresses contributors to health within this larger context, while upholding racial equity as a foundational principle.
Health Equity Strategic Map
The 2022-2024 Health Equity Strategic Map depicts the key elements of Dell Med’s strategy to demonstrably and sustainably prioritize health equity as an operating principle in all areas of the medical school.
To lay the foundation for broader external-facing health equity work, the next 12 to 18 months of the map’s implementation will focus on the following tracks of work:
- Articulate health equity as a core element of Dell Med’s mission.
- Increase leadership commitment to financing health equity initiatives.
- Creatively build working partnership among Dell Med, Central Health and Ascension Seton.
- Collect and analyze data that builds a common understanding of clinical needs.
- Expand a health equity-informed approach to multidisciplinary research.
- Make health equity central in teaching and learning.
- Incentivize and reward faculty and staff excellence in health equity practice, research and teaching.
The priorities, objectives and work outlined in the strategy require consistent alignment with Dell Med’s aspirational culture, and the strategic map will progress with staff, students and faculty participation from across the organization.
Policy is a key function to address the systemic nature of health equity work, in which existing systems reflect entrenched, rampant and often unacknowledged inequities. To that end, in addition to its initial focus on internal organizational culture change, Dell Med’s health equity work includes creating policies that directly address inequities.
Other organizations are engaged in similar policy endeavors. For example, the American Academy of Family Physicians is advancing health equity through its policies on topics such as linguistically appropriate care, human trafficking and keeping physicians in rural practice. Meanwhile, the American Public Health Association offers an online database of policy statements for reference and use in advocacy, and Policy Link introduces health equity broadly and makes the policy case for data disaggregation to advance a culture of health.
Health Equity Forums
The Health Equity Forum series fosters conversation and promotes engagement across Austin and Dell Med on the topic of health equity. The series provides opportunities to hear from nationally recognized speakers who have successfully integrated health equity into the work of their organizations, as well as ways to learn about advancing health equity locally.
Past forums have covered topics such as the importance of equity in transportation and planning, health justice and prisoner reentry, and advancing health equity for people with disabilities.
The Health Equity Forum series aims to advance the broader progress and practice of healthy equity in Central Texas and beyond.