Achieving Health Equity: Implementing Strategies in Ohio’s Health Care System

The Metro Health System of Cleveland, Ohio, serves over 300,000 patients, with the majority receiving Medicare and Medicaid. The system’s mission is based on health equity and inclusion, requiring a strategic focus on patient engagement programs and partnerships. At a Scottsdale Institute webinar, three architects of MetroHealth’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) strategy spoke on the challenges and benefits of translating DEI concepts into action, with Wolters Kluwer Health sponsoring the presentation.

The system was established in 1837 to provide essential healthcare services to the county’s population, including those who cannot access traditional medical care settings. MetroHealth has over 100 regional partnerships and provides care to patients throughout Cuyahoga County. To approach DEI more strategically, Metro Health established a formal Equity Division with nine inclusion goals, two of which aim to reduce health disparities among patients by addressing unconscious biases and collecting patient feedback.

Additionally, MetroHealth screens patients and employees for social determinants of health, such as poverty, discrimination, fair employment, quality education, and access to housing and care. The healthcare system also uses the Emmi Patient Engagement Solution to reach at-risk patients, providing health and wellness information in diverse languages and formats for patients to understand and use in their decision-making.

The Metro Health System also prioritizes representing and engaging with diverse patient populations. They use patient and employee feedback to improve their patient engagement and education materials, offering text, MyChart, email, and direct call options for educational materials. The system emphasizes the importance of meeting patients where they are and reflecting their cultural and linguistic preferences to increase engagement and success.

According to Michelle Menke, Manager of Patient Education and Accessibility Services at MetroHealth, equity, inclusion, and diversity are a way of life and service that never ends. She encourages healthcare systems to reflect their local patient populations and communities, engage them, and persevere for success. For more information, watch the Equity First: A Strategic Approach to Ensuring Equity for All Employees and Patients webinar.

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