Health Enterprises Network hosts discussion on health equity

Local leaders of healthcare organizations convene to promote communication, collaboration.

By Sally McMahon

GLI’s Health Enterprises Network (HEN), along with presenting sponsor Deloitte, hosted an in-person panel discussion on pursuing health equity as an outcome at the Louisville Central Community Center.

HEN is an investor-led organization working to champion and foster the growth of the region’s health-related economy HEN’s vision is for the region to be globally recognized as the “location of choice” for health-related businesses, researchers, educators, investors and consumers.

The inaugural event, which is part of a long-term series, included five panelists who took part in the discussion, answering questions from moderator Ben Keeton, interim executive director of HEN, in front of members of Louisville’s healthcare ecosystem. Panelists included:

  • Ebony Bell, Population Health Strategy Lead, Humana
  • Josh Lee, Principal, National Healthcare Strategy Lead & Health Equity Strategy Lead, Deloitte
  • Dr. Kelly McCants, Executive Director, Norton Healthcare Center for Health Equity
  • Dr. Sarah Moyer, Chief Health Strategist, Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness 
  • Aaron E. Weathers II, M.A., Assistant Director LGBT Center, University of Louisville Health Sciences Center

Panelists discussed their organization’s key accomplishments over the last year that have moved the needle on promoting health equity. They also shared thoughts on collaboration across academia, government and industry to promote health equity and discussed the biggest challenges they are trying to address in this space and areas where the community is falling short.

The event provided an opportunity for panelists to share specific Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) initiatives and discuss how the healthcare ecosystem can work together to create a more equitable healthcare system.

“As the regional Chamber of Commerce, GLI recognizes that in order to achieve economic equity, we also must address inequities within other fundamental institutions, like our healthcare system. By providing equitable access to care, we can level the playing field and give people of all races and backgrounds in Greater Louisville the same opportunities to thrive,” said Dana Johnson, GLI’s Senior Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, health equity is achieved when every person has the opportunity to “attain his or her full health potential” and no one is “disadvantaged from achieving this potential because of social position or other socially determined circumstances.” However, according to the 2017 Health Equity Report, produced by Louisville Metro Department of Public Health & Wellness’ Center for Health Equity, life expectancy for residents of some neighborhoods in the west end of Louisville is 12.6 years lower than that of persons living in the more affluent east end neighborhoods. Also, Louisville residents have higher mortality rates from cancer than the national average (189.9 per 100,000 in Louisville vs. 169.9 per 100,000 nationwide).

David Henley, JD, immediate past chair of HEN and vice chair of HEN’s DE&I committee, opened the event and shared work being done by HEN’s DE&I committee.

The Health Enterprises Network Board is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion not as the popular thing to do but as the right thing to do. And, with that commitment and support, I led a thoughtful and intentional effort that resulted in the creation of a DE&I committee that consists of Board members and representatives from other healthcare organizations. We have used and will continue to use the committee to drive change, establish goals, and be visible in the community as a role model for diversity, equity, and inclusion,” said Henley.

Josh Lee, partner with presenting sponsor Deloitte, shared information about the Deloitte Health Equity Institute, which was established to build upon a decade of impact made by the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions. The institute declared racism as a public health crisis and, is dedicated to convening and amplifying crisis response. Lee outlined how activating health equity is a moral imperative calling for business solutions.

“Economic, social and environmental disparities in Louisville and the entire state have laid bare the need for leaders to support the health of individuals and communities in an integrated way,” Lee said. “Health equity starts with the recognition that health is broader than health care. I hope today’s discussion is the start of an ongoing community-wide conversation about the many drivers of health and health equity.”

Panelists agreed that continued communication, collaboration, and coordination are keys to moving the needle forward in the health equity space and preventing silos of progress being made within individual organizations.