You, our upstream community, set a record this week.
While our monthly webinars typically attract several hundred registrants, this one drew nearly 800. The topic? Equity, structural racism, and our role as healthcare professionals.
Not only did you come to this discussion, but you vigorously engaged. Questions from participants poured in. People wanted to know how to start addressing the ill health caused by racial injustice, how to make an impact, and how to convince others to care.
This show of passion about a critical, neglected issue is worth celebrating — but celebration is not enough. We need to empower those who are passionate about equitable, just, upstream care with the tools and the influence to do something about it.
At HealthBegins, we see a critical opportunity where the work of Diversity and Inclusion (DI) meets the work of Social Determinants of Health (SDoH).
We already work with clients to approach change through Upstream Quality Improvement (QI): a method that applies rigorous goals, steps, and measures to the journey upstream. Now it is time to merge a third stream into that river: Diversity and Inclusion. DI, SDoH, and QI all naturally intersect. They belong together.
We need to recognize that racism and other forms of discrimination ARE social determinants of health. And we need to understand that we in healthcare, isolated as we might feel in our clinics, actually do have the power to affect them. The inspiring work of our webinar guests, from the Southern Jamaica Plain Health Center in Boston and AcademyHealth, prove that’s true.
We can exercise that power by integrating DI and SDoH and folding them directly into the daily business of healthcare, which includes the machinery of QI. We can write our contracts with community partners to reflect and reinforce the true spirit of this work — as HealthBegins is already beginning to do. Unless we take this kind of strategic action, equity and inclusion will remain lofty ideals rather than substantive pursuits.
Reflecting on the overwhelming response to our latest webinar, all of us at HealthBegins are feeling one thing keenly: responsibility. Part of our role is to look ahead at the next bend in the river, to foresee how to navigate these waters correctly, to help everyone ask the questions that need to be asked.
You are an essential part of that. Do you have ideas, resources, stories, or requests for this mission? Please share them with us here.
With you as partners, we hope to catalyze this movement. We’ll create even more spaces for these conversations to continue and expand. We’ll model methods to operationalize these goals. We’ll help others get past the tipping point from talk to action.