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Roadmap for embedding health equity research into learning health systems


Background Achieving health equity is vital to fulfil the quadruple aim for optimal healthcare system performance. Traditionally, academic medicine and healthcare systems have focused their efforts on addressing health inequities with an emphasis on improving workforce diversity. Although this approach is an important requisite, a diverse workforce alone is not sufficient; rather holistic health equity should be established as the anchoring principal mission of all academic medical centres, residing at the intersection of clinical care, education, research and community.

Methods NYU Langone Health (NYULH) has embarked on significant institutional changes to position itself as an equity-focused learning health system. One-way NYULH accomplishes this is through the establishment of a health equity research roadmap, which serves as the organising framework through which we conduct embedded pragmatic research in our healthcare delivery system to target and eliminate health inequities across our tripartite mission of patient care, medical education and research.

Results This article outlines each of the six elements of the NYULH roadmap. These elements include: (1) developing processes for collecting accurate disaggregate data on race, ethnicity and language, sexual orientation and gender identity and disability; (2) using a data-driven approach to identify health equity gaps; (3) creating performance and metric-based quality improvement goals to measure progress toward elimination of health equity gaps; (4) investigating the root cause of the identified health equity gap; (5) developing and evaluating evidence-based solutions to address and resolve the inequities; and (6) continuous monitoring and feedback for system improvements.

Conclusion Application of each element of the roadmap can provide a model for how academic medical centres can use pragmatic research to embed a culture of health equity into their health system.

  • continuous improvement
  • health system
  • research

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