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Roadmap to Advance Health Equity

Defining Health Equity

Health equity is the principle that each person has a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible. As a principle with moral and ethical foundations it motivates action. Advancing health equity requires removing or lessening obstacles that impact one’s health such as: discrimination, poverty, unsafe housing, inadequate education opportunities, and inadequate or non-existent health care, among many other possible barriers.

Health equity and health disparity are two terms that are commonly used in tandem. In the United States, “health disparity” refers to measurable differences in health care processes or health, including data on race and ethnicity. Acknowledging and reducing or eliminating health disparities helps us measure progress towards achieving health equity.

Achieving health equity requires improving access to the conditions and resources that strongly influence health. Without a guide, it can be difficult to know if you’re on the right path. The Roadmap to Advance Health Equity entails a series of activities to help an organization or multi-organization collaborative create a sustainable approach to reducing or eliminating health and health care inequities. The following guide provides an overview of each component of the roadmap as well as questions and actions your team might undertake as it embarks on the road to advance health equity.

The roadmap was created with the understanding that all organizations have health and healthcare inequities in the populations they serve and that eliminating those inequities is vital to the overall health of the nation.  Its aim is to help organizations and collaboratives integrate disparities reduction into all of their health care quality improvement efforts. While there is a clear path teams can follow, the journey to health equity will look different for each organization or collaborative. Some teams may find creating a culture of equity to be more challenging than they’d imagined. Others may have a strong culture of equity, but their initial attempts at transforming care or payment models may have failed.

Backed by extensive research and years of first-hand, practical experience, the Roadmap to Advance Health Equity is designed to aid organizations in the development of initiatives that are tailored to their specific populations and address inequities  based on their available resources. The roadmap provides a framework for organizations to implement equity-focused quality improvement programs simultaneously or in conjunction with other efforts.

Because effective implementation and long-term sustainability are dependent upon realizing each part of the roadmap, AHE strongly encourages organizations to devote their full attention to implementing all of the roadmap’s components.