By Karen Conway, vice president of healthcare value, Global Healthcare Exchange (GHX).
The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the true costs, human and otherwise, of health disparities, as low income and minority populations suffered disproportionately from the virus. Blacks, Native Americans and Hispanics were 2% to 3.3% more likely to be hospitalized or die from the virus compared to non-Hispanic Whites, primarily because of a higher prevalence of underlying disease states (hypertension, obesity and Type II diabetes) caused by relative lack of access to the so-called social determinants of health: good paying jobs, healthy food, safe housing, and transportation, among others.
As with so many aspects of the pandemic, supply chain is front and center in the fight, which is playing out on their home turf, literally. Once again, supply chain is also getting noticed in the executive suite, as the boards of trustees for America’s hospitals prioritize health equity in preparation for taking on more risk for the populations they serve under value-based reimbursement programs. Here are few ways they are making a difference.
1. Bringing Diversity Home
Supply chain professionals have long sought to increase their spend with diverse suppliers, defined primarily as those that are women, minority, veteran, or LBGTQ-owned. That data is tracked and often used to support grant applications. More recently, transparency around that spend is being mandated. In California, for example, Assembly Bill 962 (AB 962) requires all hospitals meeting a certain threshold to report how much they spend with diverse suppliers each year.
But for many health systems, diversity is not enough. They want to make sure they are using their purchasing power to support the health and well-being of local communities where the patients they serve live. Spending in local communities has a multiplier effect. For example, investing in a local business supports job creation; in turn the wages for those employees generate local tax dollars and increase their ability to spend and generate wealth in their own communities.