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HLTH Launches Coalition to Address Health Equity in Tech Innovation

Analysis  |  By Eric Wicklund  
   January 23, 2023

The Techquity for Health Coalition aims to emphasize the integration of health equity into healthcare technology innovation and data practices.

The HLTH Foundation has announced the launch of a coalition and national survey aimed at making sure that health equity is embedded in technology innovation and data practices. And they've coined a new word to describe the process.

The foundation, a non-profit offshoot of HLTH, has unveiled the Techquity for Health Coalition, and has defined techquity as "the strategic design, development, and deployment of technology to advance health equity, and encompasses the notion that technology can inhibit advancements in health equity if not implemented intentionally and inclusively."

The organization has also produced a national survey aimed at understanding how the healthcare industry is approaching techquity. The survey results will be announced at the ViVE 2023 conference on March 26-29 in Nashville.

"Technology and data analytics offer enormous promise to improve care access and quality, but also add new layers of consideration for health equity," Janna Guinen, executive director of the HLTH Foundation, said in a press release. "We urge healthcare leaders to participate in the techquity survey. With the continued digitization of healthcare, action is needed now to avoid further entrenchment of systemic inequities and outcomes disparities."

"Techquity engages us in thinking and acting in a way where no person is left behind," added Andrea Werner, chief population health officer at Bellin Health and Gunderson Health System, which are part of the coalition. "Leveraging the collective knowledge, diverse perspectives, and experiences of the [coalition] will help us go further [and] faster to level the playing field and optimize technology for the people we serve."

Health equity is a popular topic these days, as healthcare organizations look to identify and understand the barriers to healthcare access that plague underserved populations. Some can be attributed to social determinants of health, or non-clinical factors that affect healthcare delivery and outcomes, including geography, work and family factors, education, race, and culture.

The coalition is supported by Ipsos Healthcare, a strategic research partner, and guided by an advisory committee that includes Werner; Ricky Y. Choi, MD, MPH, of the Stanford University School of Medicine; Grace Cordovano, PhD, BCPA, of Enlightening Results; Burgess Harrison, MBA, of the National Minority Health Association; Tanisha D. Hill, MPH, of the Digital Health for Equitable Health Alliance; Pooja Mittal, DO, of Health Net; Lorren Pettit, MS, MBA, of the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME), a co-coordinator of the ViVE event; and Kyu Rhee, MD, MPP, of Aetna/CVS Health.

The group's efforts are also supported by the American Medical Association, Amazon Web Services, EmpiRx Health, Epistemix, Hopelab, NTT DATA, Outcomes4Me, ResMed, Tegria, and the VSP Vision Global Innovation Center.

"Techquity is not an individual- or consumer-level problem, but rather will require collaboration, transparency, inclusivity, and a commitment to organizational and systemic transformation," Alexis Anderson, a principal with Ipsos Healthcare, said in the press release. "Our research over the next year, in addition to fielding a second survey, will include working with the coalition to gather case studies and expert opinions in order to establish guidelines for a techquity practice healthcare."

Eric Wicklund is the Innovation and Technology Editor for HealthLeaders.


KEY TAKEAWAYS

The HLTH Foundation, a non-profit offshoot of HLTH, has launched a new coalition aimed at making sure health equity is included in healthcare innovation and data practices.

The coalition has also launched a national survey aimed at identifying how healthcare organizations are addressing health equity.

The effort defines techquity as "the strategic design, development, and deployment of technology to advance health equity, and encompasses the notion that technology can inhibit advancements in health equity if not implemented intentionally and inclusively."


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