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Accelerate Health Equity launches with new approach to health inequality in Philadelphia

Collaboration brings together organizations from across the region to drive change

Accelerate Health Equity launches today, bringing together organizations across the region to produce tangible improvement in health inequities, and ultimately achieve measurable, positive changes in health outcomes in Philadelphia. With the tagline “Working Together for a Healthier Philadelphia,” AmeriHealth Caritas, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the City of Philadelphia, Drexel University, Independence Blue Cross, Jefferson Health, Main Line Health, Penn Medicine, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Temple Health and Trinity Mid-Atlantic are joining forces to take a new approach to health equity.

Philadelphia has consistently ranked last out of the state’s 67 counties in County Health Rankings based on data analyzing quality of life, health factors, clinical care, social and economic factors and physical environment. This collaboration brings together organizations who serve City residents in a joint commitment to combat systemic racism and barriers to achieving health equity. Accelerate Health Equity is digging deep into the data and shaping pilot programs to address health conditions and social determinants of health.

“As a City, we are strongest when we work together, which is why we are so pleased to work with these outstanding local organizations to lead the way to building a healthier and more equitable Philadelphia. This collaboration and ability to scale successful pilots will be vital in breaking down systemic inequities and racial disparities that have affected the health and well-being of our communities,” said Cheryl Bettigole, M.D, M.P.H, City of Philadelphia’s Health Commissioner.

Accelerate Health Equity includes three core components:

  • Launching Pilot Programs: Individual pilot programs tied to identified areas that impact health outcomes.
  • Measuring Progress: A publicly available digital health equity dashboard based on data provides an in-depth view of 16 health equity challenge areas and will also track progress of pilot programs.
  • Collaborating to Scale: Pilot programs will be evaluated and information will be disseminated to inform health and service providers and quickly scale successful pilot programs to expand their reach and impact.

It is hoped that this effort will accelerate the pace of progress. Participating organizations are working together to design measurable pilot programs to combat disparities ranging from issues like maternal morbidity and mortality; to cancer screening and prevention; to reducing the risk of heart disease and more. These specific disparities were chosen after a review of the County Health Rankings and the Community Health Needs Assessment data and neighborhood analyses identified them as the most urgent issues.

Initial pilot programs include: Housing Smart from Temple Health focusing on housing and support services for people without housing; Closing the Gap,  Jefferson Health’s partnership with Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation that looks at social determinants of health that impact cardiovascular health outcomes in low-resource communities; Independence Blue Cross’s and AmeriHealth Caritas’s Keystone Connection to Wellness with Project HOME focused on maternal health outcomes; Penn Medicine’s focus on heart attack risk reduction through its Penn Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease (ASCVD) Risk Reduction Program; and Together For West Philadelphia, an initiative chaired by leaders from Main Line Health and Trinity Mid-Atlantic to maximize the impact of health equity in West Philadelphia.

“We’re proud to work alongside so many esteemed organizations to identify and understand health equity issues that have plagued Philadelphia for far too long. In 2020, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) and all its member plans made a pledge to, among other things, work within our communities to pursue equality and good health for all. In 2021, BCBSA, Independence, and other Blue Plans announced a national health equity strategy,” said Gregory E. Deavens, president and chief executive officer at Independence Blue Cross.

“Our efforts here in Philadelphia County are aligned with this strategy and our commitment to equality and good health for all,” Deavens added. “We recognize that health outcomes are impacted by many factors, from jobs and income levels to underlying health conditions, food security, and housing. This initiative allows us to build on readily available data, optimize and focus collective stakeholder resources, and drive change on a wider scale.”

As part of Accelerate Health Equity, Independence will collaborate with the Colorectal Cancer Alliance on a new initiative to reduce colorectal cancer mortality among Black people in Philadelphia.

Community input and partnership will be a critical part of Accelerate Health Equity projects. Ultimately, the intent is for this work to improve the health of our friends and neighbors and serve as a model to help other communities.

About Accelerate Health Equity

Accelerate Health Equity is a multi-year initiative that brings together organizations across the Philadelphia region to combat systemic racism and barriers in healthcare. It’s designed to produce tangible improvement in these issues and, ultimately, positive change in health outcomes in Philadelphia. To learn more about the participating organizations, pilot programs and progress, visit www.AHEphl.org.

Media contact:
Grant Gegwich
Grant.Gegwich@ibx.com