Hospitals & Facilities

Health leaders set sights on improved equity

Most executives told Deloitte that improved health equity is among their top 2024 goals.
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· 3 min read

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Healthcare Brew covers pharmaceutical developments, health startups, the latest tech, and how it impacts hospitals and providers to keep administrators and providers informed.

Improving health equity—meaning that everyone can achieve their full health potential regardless of race, gender, ability, or zip code—will again top the list of New Year’s resolutions for hospital and health industry leaders in 2024, according to Deloitte’s Outlook for Health Equity released December 6.

The consulting and auditing firm, which surveyed more than 120 life science and health sector C-suite executives this fall, found that 80+% of respondents listed improved health equity among their top 10 goals for 2024. Almost half of the surveyed executives (who deal with equity-related decisions) said they plan to increase investments in that area in the new year, the report found.

Jay Bhatt, managing director of the Deloitte Health Equity Institute and the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, told Healthcare Brew that the outlook’s findings suggest health equity is “not just a moral imperative—it’s an economic imperative as well.”

Health equity initiatives, for example, can boost business competition and employee recruitment and retention—another top issue for the health sector—as well as help improve patient outcomes, he said.

“The cost of inaction is significant,” Bhatt added, noting that a 2022 Deloitte report estimated health inequities cost about $320 billion in annual health spending—and that could rise to $1 trillion by 2040 if nothing is done. “This can’t be a side gig or a side hustle: It has to be in the mindset in the strategy and operations of every organization.”

Deloitte analysts identified five key factors that could influence equity initiatives: the rise of new artificial intelligence capabilities, increased community engagement in clinical trials, workforce recruitment and retention strategies, new multisector collaborations, and research capabilities.

Limited resources, margin pressures, and competing priorities, meanwhile, could hinder efforts to improve health equity, respondents told Deloitte.

Health executives should therefore take an “integrated enterprise approach” to health equity that focuses on quality and safety, finances, and unmet needs, Bhatt said.

“You’ve got to have a strategy—it’s got to be measurable, it’s got to be discussed at the C-suite and board levels—and then the other thing is you have to have a leadership, a board, and workforce that reflects the communities you serve,” he added. “We’ve seen through our data that when that happens […] that builds trust and leads to better outcomes.”

Navigate the healthcare industry

Healthcare Brew covers pharmaceutical developments, health startups, the latest tech, and how it impacts hospitals and providers to keep administrators and providers informed.