Published: Oct. 26, 2021 at 3:00 AM MDT|Updated: 59 minutes ago
MILWAUKEE, Oct. 26, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — The national conversation on health equity is advancing through an inaugural virtual forum hosted by the Black Directors Health Equity Agenda (BDHEA). “The Fierce Urgency of Now: The Playbook on Health Equity,” held Sept. 27 and 28, featured discussions by CEOs, board directors and other executive thought leaders from the healthcare, business and government ecosystems.
The virtual forum addressed not only health disparities but also the resources and policies that drive health outcomes.
Leaders explained the need for elevating the health equity conversation in boardrooms across the U.S. to inspire action needed to reduce health disparities facing our Black communities.
“As a director of many years, I know what gets measured and prioritized gets done,” said Michele J. Hooper, BDHEA founding member and strategic planning chair, who also chairs UnitedHealth Group’s corporate governance committee. “Attention to and progress over health equity starts with boards recognizing their responsibility in oversight of the healthcare agenda.”
The virtual forum addressed not only health disparities but also the resources and policies that drive health outcomes. “We believe it’s going to take collaboration and partnerships, education, data analytics, equitable resources, and quite frankly, courageous conversations in our boardrooms to address health disparities and to improve outcomes,” Hooper told forum participants.
Transformative Partnerships Start With a Plan
Attendees were introduced to the BDHEA’s Board Director Health Equity Playbook, a guide for Boards to activate health equity and lead these executive conversations. The action plan was co-developed with the Deloitte Health Equity Institute. BDHEA founding member Joe Wilkins, managing director at JW Healthcare Insights, said the playbook will better equip members to achieve measurable progress in providing equitable services.
“Silence in the boardroom is no longer an option,” Wilkins said. “We know that we’re often the only African American in the room. It’s a lonely feeling.”
A panel of Black healthcare CEOs made the case for collaboration, noting the human toll of an incremental approach to social issues from hunger and nutrition to jobs and housing. “What COVID did was really take the cover off the underlying causes of health disparities,” said Lloyd H. Dean, BDHEA honorary chair and CEO of CommonSpirit Health, which is partnering with Morehouse School of Medicine to train more Black physicians. “We have more work to do, and we will. Our greatest limitation is our imagination.”
Greg A. Adams, Chair and Chief Executive Officer at Kaiser Permanente, said healthcare organizations must make strategic investments and form partnerships to resolve health inequities. “We have to rethink what is happening in our facilities and our systems in healthcare, including how we deliver care differently, and the skill sets we need to address health disparities and racial inequities,” Adams said.
Black Directors Ready to Lead on Health Equity
The BDHEA is uniquely positioned with high-profile leaders who have personally experienced and/or witnessed inequities in healthcare firsthand. Its inaugural virtual forum set the tone for the conversations needed to eliminate health disparities facing Black American and to ensure equitable healthcare for all.
“BDHEA is an organization through which we as Black directors and senior leaders can get educated to help drive that change. Health equity is not a do-gooder issue, but one where a business case can be made,” Hooper said. Corporate boards will be looking to minority directors for innovation and leadership in solving health equity’s seemingly insoluble issues. The BDHEA forum showed Black directors are ready for the challenge.
Dr. Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer, advised healthcare directors at the forum to set specific goals and measure the results of their actions. “At the end of the day, equity is easier to speak about than to deliver,” said Bourla. “We need to move from the theoretical to the practical.”
As the BDHEA works to advance the conversation on health equity in boardrooms across the country, business executives and thought leaders from across the health ecosystem and beyond can get involved. The BDHEA provides a briefing on health equity issues, a preview of how to address them, alerts on upcoming events and ways for board members to share their stories and help the cause at bdhea.org.
The Black Directors Health Equity Agenda is made up of board directors and senior leaders who are working to eradicate the health disparities and inequities that threaten the individual and collective prosperity of Black families. As change agents, its members across the health ecosystem, foster and facilitate board education for up-and-coming leaders, encourage revised business models, spur innovative thinking and action and support policy reforms that advance health equity for Black Americans that will ultimately ensure equal and fair healthcare for all. Learn more at bdhea.org.
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