Food as Medicine: A Whole Health Strategy Webinar Recording

 

Food as Medicine transcends traditional nutrition approaches by recognizing the inherent power of what we consume to influence and enhance our total well-being. Join Dr. Kofi Essel and the Healthy Hospital Initiative as we delve into Food as Medicine in health care settings; strategies to seamlessly incorporate Food as Medicine within complex health systems; and explore real-world examples of Food as Medicine within the DC region. Learn how communities and health care providers use the power of nutrition for transformative health initiatives.

November 2023 Utilization Report

There was a generalized decrease from October to November in most utilization metrics compared to pre-COVID baselines with the exception of Observation patients which are 3% over the baseline in November (see Fig. 1 below).

 

Psychiatric admissions are still trending above the median across all nine hospitals as depicted in Fig. 2 below. Although the variation ranges from 715 to 813 and admissions are down slightly for November, seven months in a row above the median indicates a shift under statistical process control guidelines. Civil commitment admissions continue to be a driver of this overall pattern as shown in Fig. 3.

 

Using Health-Related Social Needs Screening Tools

As hospitals in the District continue efforts to improve health equity in accordance with hospital goals and federal requirements, it is important to understand key strategies for the collection of health-related social needs (HRSNs). The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services outlined key strategies to support health care facilities in developing a universal HRSN screening following feedback from organizations using the CMS screening model and recommendations from leaders in the field. The strategies are included in this document to support District hospitals in the successful implementation of universal HRSN screenings.

DCHA is Hiring a Project Coordinator

Join the amazing team at the District of Columbia Hospital Association as a project coordinator that supports member hospital improvement activities focused on health information exchange and interoperability.

DCHA Announces 2024 Slate of Board of Director Officers

The District of Columbia Hospital Association, at its December 14 Board of Directors Annual Meeting, voted to elect a new slate of Board officers for terms beginning in January 2024. DCHA is the unifying voice advancing hospitals and health systems in the District of Columbia by promoting policies and initiatives that strengthen our system of care, preserve access, eliminate disparities, and promote better health outcomes for patients and communities. The 2024 Board Officers are:

Dr. Gregory Argyros, Board Chair
President, MedStar Washington Hospital Center
Senior Vice President, MedStar Health

Dr. Hasan Zia, Immediate Past Chair
President & Chief Operating Officer, Sibley Memorial Hospital

Kimberly Russo, Vice Chair
Chief Executive Officer, The George Washington University Hospital

Anita Jenkins, Secretary
Chief Executive Officer, Howard University Hospital

Ryan Zumalt, Treasurer
Chief Executive Officer, BridgePoint Healthcare – Capitol Hill

Back to Basics: What You Need to Know About Hospitals and Health Equity

In modern health care, hospitals stand as beacons of healing, embodying the convergence of medical science and human empathy. These centers of health are not just facilities; they symbolize a commitment to providing equitable care to all. Yet, beneath the surface of this noble endeavor, disparities persist, reflecting broader societal challenges. Health equity in hospitals goes beyond policy; it represents a moral imperative to ensure that every individual receives the care they need regardless of background or economic status. This complex and ever-evolving pursuit is at the heart of transforming healthcare into a truly inclusive system.

Why Does Inequity Exist in Hospitals

The persistence of inequity within the walls of hospitals is a complex issue with multifaceted roots. Several key factors contribute to the existence of inequity in health care settings.

  1. Socioeconomic Disparities: Patients from lower-income backgrounds often face barriers to accessing health care services, including limited financial resources, lack of insurance, and transportation challenges. These barriers can result in delayed or forgone medical care, ultimately impacting health outcomes.
  2. Racial and Ethnic Disparities: Systemic racism and bias within health care systems can lead to differential treatment and healthcare access based on a patient’s race or ethnicity. This can result in disparities in the diagnosis and management of diseases, as well as variations in treatment recommendations.
  3. Geographical Disparities: Rural or underserved areas often have fewer health care facilities and providers, reducing access to care. Patients in remote areas may need to travel long distances to reach a hospital or specialist, creating disparities in health care utilization.
  4. Cultural and Linguistic Barriers: Cultural and linguistic differences between patients and health care providers can hinder effective communication and understanding. This can lead to misdiagnoses, inappropriate treatments, and reduced patient engagement, all of which contribute to health care inequity.
  5. Lack of Diversity in the Health Care Workforce: Patients may feel more comfortable and receive more culturally competent care when treated by health care professionals who share their background. Increasing diversity among health care providers is essential to addressing this aspect of health care inequity.
  6. Systemic and Policy Factors: These may include underfunding of health care programs, lack of investment in underserved communities, and policies limiting access to care for certain populations. Addressing these systemic and policy factors is crucial to reducing health care inequities.

The Role of Medicare in Health Equity

Medicare supports health equity through its comprehensive coverage, which includes hospitalization, outpatient medical services, and prescription drugs. This coverage helps reduce the disparities in health care access and outcomes for the elderly and disabled populations. Moreover, Medicare’s preventive care services and chronic disease management programs are instrumental in mitigating health inequities, as these initiatives are designed to provide early detection and consistent management of health conditions that disproportionately affect underserved populations.

Despite its significant role, Medicare faces challenges in fully addressing health equity. Issues such as coverage gaps, high out-of-pocket costs for certain services, and limitations in long-term care coverage can still leave some beneficiaries vulnerable. Additionally, disparities in health care access and quality persist among different groups within the Medicare population, influenced by factors such as race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status.

One aspect of Medicare that impacts health equity is its portability, especially when beneficiaries move to another state. Understanding how to transfer Medicare to another state is crucial for maintaining continuity of care. While Medicare coverage is generally nationwide, there are nuances, particularly with Medicare Advantage plans and Part D prescription drug plans, which may have specific service areas or networks.

Beneficiaries must be aware of these details to ensure seamless access to health care services when relocating, thus contributing to the overall goal of health equity in the Medicare program.

Strategies for Advancing Health Equity in Hospitals

This section delves into the strategies hospitals are adopting to advance health equity, ensuring that every individual receives equitable care.

  • Policies and Practices to Enhance Health Equity in Hospitals: Hospitals must adopt policies and practices that explicitly address disparities to advance health equity. This includes implementing anti-discrimination policies, promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and adopting equitable hiring and promotion practices. Hospitals can also establish clear guidelines for addressing patients’ cultural and linguistic needs, ensuring that all individuals receive respectful and equitable care.
  • Role of Healthcare Professionals in Promoting Equity: Health care professionals play a pivotal role in advancing health equity. Training programs should focus on cultural competency and sensitivity, enabling healthcare providers to understand and address the unique needs of patients from diverse backgrounds. Encouraging diversity in the health care workforce is essential, as a diverse health care team can better relate to and serve a diverse patient population.
  • Importance of Community Involvement and Patient Advocacy: Engaging with the community is essential for hospitals to address health disparities effectively. This involves partnerships with local organizations, conducting community needs assessments, and involving community members in decision-making processes. Additionally, hospitals can establish patient advocacy programs to empower individuals to navigate the health care system and advocate for their health. Also, many minority-owned business enterprises are taking a more proactive role, establishing business models that can effectively address inequity within health care settings.
  • Utilizing Technology and Data to Address Inequities: Advancements in health care technology and data analytics can be harnessed to identify and address health inequities. Hospitals can use data to track disparities in care outcomes and tailor interventions accordingly. Telehealth and remote monitoring can increase access to care for underserved populations, bridging geographic barriers. Moreover, electronic health records can include cultural and social determinants of health data to provide a more comprehensive view of patients’ needs.

Wrapping Up

The challenges are evident in the journey toward health equity, but so is the unwavering commitment to change. Health equity is not an abstract goal. It’s a fundamental right. Hospitals, as beacons of hope, are pivotal in this pursuit. Policies, practices, and innovation are shaping a healthcare landscape where every individual receives the care they deserve. This journey is not finite; it’s a continuous path toward a world where health disparities are a thing of the past.

© 2024. District of Columbia Hospital Association.