Removing the Barriers to Equitable Healthcare

By Dr. Anoop Raman,
AbsoluteCare Chief Medical Officer

Two words you’ll hear often in healthcare today are equality and equity. The words are frequently confused. Equality means everyone gets the same thing. Equity means everyone gets what they need to render them equal.

A well-known depiction of equity versus equality features three people of different heights standing at a picket fence, trying to see a ballgame on the other side. If we treat each of these people equally, they all get one box to stand on, regardless of their height. Even the tallest person—who can see over the fence without help—gets a box, while the two shorter people are still below the fence line.

If we treat them equitably, however, the shortest person gets the most boxes. In the end, all three people are the same height and have the same view of the ballgame.

But what if the fence were constructed of clear materials that would allow all people, regardless of their height, an unobstructed view of the game? Or what if that fence were removed altogether?

Of course, healthcare is not a ballgame, yet the fence—the barriers to healthcare—are still in the way for so many people. The system has inherent flaws. It assumes people have equal access and takes for granted that they can be treated the same way until those who have different needs must demand accommodations.

Everyone deserves healthcare and the resources necessary to achieve it. Society must dismantle the fence and remove the barriers to give everyone the opportunity to achieve their health goals in the most effective ways for them.

We take so many things for granted: transportation, convenience, access, adherence, engagement. The healthcare system should identify those most at risk for chronic illness and who face barriers to care every day. Engage them where they are: hospitals, homeless shelters, soup kitchens, barbershops—in their own communities. Welcome them to our practices and our medical centers, removing those barriers with things like:

  • Transportation to and from their appointments
  • Access to a primary care physician and staff to help build strong relationships
  • An onsite pharmacy to help avoid extra, unnecessary trips—and to help ensure that patients have picked up their medications, know how to take them, and are taking them properly
  • Social workers to help with life services, like food and housing

AbsoluteCare brings together all the pieces of the health equity puzzle. And our success relies on improvements in member health. Members who meet us here can not only watch the whole game as equals with other spectators, but they can participate in their own lives in ways they’ve never before imagined.