The diversity of patients of Better Health's participating primary care practices spans race, ethnicity, preferred language, income, education, geography and the kind of health insurance they have, or if they have none.
Achievement on Better Health's nationally recognized standards of quality care varies widely across these patient characteristics, disparities that contribute to increased health care costs, as well as the human and broad economic burden of poorly managed chronic illness.
Health disparities present a persistent, complex and longstanding challenge to efforts to improve health in communities. High-quality health care is often defined as "doing the right thing at the right time in a way that produces the best results." So equitable care does not mean treating every patient the same. Rather, equitable care ensures optimal outcomes for all patients regardless of their background or circumstances.
Better Health routinely identifies the achievement gaps among patient subgroups and examines trends over time to catalyze interventions to narrow the gaps, and, sometimes, to discover a best practice that can disseminated. In 2012, data analyses revealed a health system with outstanding results of high blood pressure control for their patients – all of their patients, even across race.
The health system, HealthSpan (at the time, Kaiser Permanente Ohio), had implemented new protocols to remove barriers, both cultural and medical. They simplified the drug regimen, stepped up blood pressure checks and conducted sensitivity training for physician and staff to enable them to build trusting relationships with their patients.
Better Health and HealthSpan developed a curriculum based on its successful intervention to close the gap in good blood pressure control across patient groups. Better Health is helping selected practices learn and adopt the core principles in their own care setting.