Equality Health and Arizona State University Partner to Improve Culturally Relevant Care

Published: April 24, 2019

New collaboration documents, evaluates, and ultimately improves care for diverse populations

Phoenix, Arizona, April 24, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) – Equality Health and its Foundation have embarked on a unique partnership with Arizona State University’s College of Health Solutions to improve the health and care of Arizona’s Hispanic community. Together these teams are creating a learning health network where students and faculty work with patients, providers and staff to identify, capture and analyze factors that affect care with the goal to improve culturally relevant care.

According to a report from the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), when compared to other groups, Hispanics in the United States have poorer overall health outcomes, are less likely to have a regular heath care provider, seek more care though emergency departments and are significantly less likely to receive preventive care, such as vaccinations and cancer screenings. Arizona’s population is nearly one third Hispanic, so identifying and understanding the reasons for these health and care disparities can ultimately make a difference in many lives.

Social and economic factors that affect healthcare utilization and health outcomes are known as social determinants of health (SDOH). Poverty, health literacy, education, transportation, food insecurity and language are factors with significant impact. Cultural factors unique to the Hispanic population also contribute to these differences, but little is known about how addressing specific cultural factors might improve care.

“Our collaboration with ASU allows us to explore our cultural care model to pinpoint patterns and behaviors impacting health outcomes,” said Anabell Castro Thompson, senior vice president of equity, diversity, and inclusion for Equality Health. “The ASU team is organizing and analyzing a variety of health and care data to help us target and narrow the health care disparities gap.”

As part of the evaluation, Equality Health is working with the students and faculty from the biomedical informatics program at ASU’s College of Health Solutions. By using advanced data analytics techniques, the ASU research team is studying the relationship between specific patient-reported social and cultural factors and how these factors affect healthcare utilization. ASU researchers will measure emergency department use, primary care provider visits, and preventive care utilization, such as wellness visits and recommended screenings, blood sugar control for patients with diabetes and the use of behavioral health services for those screening positive for depression.

“We are excited that this partnership allows our students to engage in research that directly impacts our local communities,” said Deborah Helitzer, dean of the College of Health Solutions. “It puts our research into action to truly make a difference in overcoming health disparities.”

Additionally, the ASU researchers will study the outcomes of the cultural effectiveness training program for clinicians and staff to see if it leads to the increased use of preventive services and behavioral health treatment for their patients.

“The partnership with ASU’s College of Health Solutions will bring academic rigor to the validation and iterative improvement of Equality Health’s culturally sensitive approach to care. We look forward to sharing what we learn with the general community,” said Chandra Merica, senior vice president of analytics for Equality Health. “This partnership also provides a unique opportunity for engaging students in health care data analytics while creating an awareness of culturally relevant care among the next generation of practitioners and health informaticists.”

About Equality Health

Equality Health, LLC is an Arizona-based integrated, holistic healthcare delivery system focused on improving care delivery for diverse populations with culturally sensitive programs that improve access, quality, and member trust. Through an integrated technology and services platform, culturally competent provider network and unique cultural care model, Equality Health helps managed care plans and health systems improve care for diverse populations while simultaneously making the transition to risk-based accountability. For more information about Equality Health, visit www.equalityhealth.com or follow @EqualityHealth on Facebook, @EqualityHealth on Twitter, and @EqualityHealth on LinkedIn.

About the College of Health Solutions

The College of Health Solutions at Arizona State University is dedicated to translating scientific health research and discovery into practical interventions that are being implemented into clinical and community practice. Its programs prepare students to address the challenges facing our populations to stay healthy, improve their health, and manage chronic disease – all toward improving health outcomes. Programs are offered in behavioral health, biomedical informatics and biomedical diagnostics, kinesiology and exercise science, nutrition, public and population health, the science of health care delivery, and speech and hearing science. Graduates are prepared to make an impact in the health workforce and shift the focus of health from sickness to wellness, addressing the factors that enable populations to be and stay healthy. Learn more at chs.asu.edu.

Media Contacts:

Tomás León
Equality Health

Katherine Reedy
Arizona State University
(480) 965-3779