About the Team
The Washington team is comprised of:
- Washington State Health Care Authority (HCA)
- Community Health Plan of Washington (CHPW)
- Community Health Network of Washington (CHNW)
The team is developing a statewide health equity initiative to meet the needs and priorities of 20 urban and rural community health centers across the state. The WA team serves several immigrant communities, 29 federally recognized tribes, and a population in which more than 24% report a language other than English as their primary language.
Identifying and Diagnosing the Problem
The Washington team assessed a range of potential health equity topic areas based on their availability of data, community interest, political momentum, existing programming, among other metrics. Based upon their assessment the team focused on perinatal health. However, once the team began to strategize, they decided to broaden the health equity focus area to allow each community health center to select a priority area pertinent to the community they serve. As a result, the team seeks to advance health equity within:
- Member experience (largely focusing on members’ experiences accessing quality healthcare)
- Equitable pregnancy care
- Equitable depression and other chronic condition management
Each community health center is tasked to select a focus area based on community input and on the services they provide (e.g. some CHCs do not provide perinatal healthcare).
Designing and Implementing Change
The Washington team created a grant program by utilizing CHPW pay for performance withhold dollars and releasing the dollars upfront to the community health centers with CHNW. All 20 community health centers were invited to apply for grants up to $50,000 to address disparities in one or more of the three focus areas. The grants required strong patient and community engagement to ensure initiatives were tailored to the immediate needs and priorities of the communities served.
The Washington team is exploring strategies to bolster and sustain the equity efforts into year 2 and 3 of this program. They are hoping to support CHCs continue their interventions while also building equity infrastructure (e.g. workforce education and data capacity) for long-term equity efforts.
Creating Cultures of Equity
The Washington team is working to align their own equity initiatives across organizations. CHPW has created an equity assessment tool to evaluate the health equity implications of all organizational policies and programs with the ultimate goal of offering it to the HCA and CHNW. In addition, HCA and CHNW are developing their own cultures of equity, including hiring new staff dedicated to health equity work, staff equity training at all levels, and improved structures to partner with their communities.