5 health leaders share recommendations on improving health equity 

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CMS on Dec. 8 held a roundtable in which leaders from health systems, medical schools and organizations across the country weighed in on how to improve health equity. 

Here are five suggestions from roundtable participants, taken from a transcript released Jan. 5. 

1. Adjust data collection 

"We need to revamp our framework for collecting race and ethnicity data because it's currently confusing, and it leads to incomplete and inaccurate data. Specifically, we have to move towards a combined race/ethnicity framework," said Alice Chen, MD, CMO at Covered California.

2. Incentivize innovation

"I would suggest creating a financial incentive for innovation and value-based care, delivery system reforms and whole-person care," said Kara Odom Walker, MD, chief population health officer at Jacksonville, Fla.-based Nemours Health System.

3. Look outside the hospital

"Progress for health equity requires addressing the broader capacity and culture of healthcare institutions, including collaboration with community partners and those outside of healthcare, the cultural humility of clinicians, and antiracism training of administrators and staff and government structures," said Mayra Alvarez, president of California based advocacy group The Children’s Partnership.

4. Redesign payment models

"I think it is going to be really important as we move forward is for payers, including CMS, to work with the provider side of the delivery system to understand, how can we design payment models that help providers and public health systems address the social risk factors that are preventing achievement of high-quality care," said Thomas Sequist, MD, CMO of Boston-based Mass General Brigham.

5. Provide resources and education on data collection

"Provide that education and technical assistance. People sometimes lack the resources in terms of those best practices of how to collect the information and to express the importance for the participants in terms of the need for providing that information, be it race, ethnicity or other social demographic characteristics, " said Cara James, PhD, president and CEO of Grantmakers In Health, a nonprofit educational organization.

Read the full transcript of the roundtable here.

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