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Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Health Disparities were front and center at the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference. A small sample.

Health Disparities

"While African-Americans comprise of only about 14% of the state's population, they comprise 40% of the deaths related to COVID 19, the state of Michigan." Henry Ford Health System

"We have two times the rate for hypertension in our African-American population than we do in our Caucasian". Advocate-Aurora


"Our board approved our 2021 KPIs, which include improving workforce diversity, specifically racial and ethnic diversity for leadership and improving access to care in all the communities where we serve as part of our board recruitment process, we added two wonderful board members to SSM health. They bring racial diversity and tremendous gifts and talents and depth to our dialogue perspectives and work. We added diversity training, exploring unconscious bias for our leaders. We address that in every one of our leadership council meetings. Over the course of the year, we updated our socially adjust wage policy and recently implemented a new minimum wage across our system, which affected directly 1700 of our employees." SSM Health

More on Today's podcast.


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 Today in Health it Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Today. The story is diversity, equity, inclusion, and Health Disparities at the JP Morgan Conference. In their own words. My name is Bill Russell. I'm a former CIO for a 16 hospital system and creator of this week in Health IT a channel dedicated to keeping health IT staff current and engaged.

All right. On to today's story, diversity, equity, inclusion, and Health Disparities. Were front and center at the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference, and I just wanna give you a small sample of what they were saying, what the CEOs and others were saying at the conference. Alright, so this is W, right? Lasser, CEO, for Henry Ford Health System.

And, and the first couple of quotes are really about the problem and what, what they're seeing. So, Wright Lasseter, CEO, Henry Ford Health System, uh, in Detroit, Michigan. And while African Americans comprise only about 14% of the state's population, they comprise 40% of the deaths related to c Ovid 19. In the state of Michigan, African Aurora, James Kosberg, CEO, we have two times the rate of hypertension in our African-American population than we do in our Caucasian, uh, Merck's, CEO, Ken and Frazier and, uh, the Merck, CEO.

Uh, so Ken Frazier and Jamie Diamond shared the stage during the first day over lunch. It was a phenomenal conversation. They spent the first, I would say, . Uh, 10, 15 minutes talking about diversity, equity, and inclusion and what we can do, uh, what corporate American can do, what companies can do. This is what Ken Frazier, CEO of Merck had to say.

United States ranks 47th in the world in terms of maternal mortality. In, in, in New York City where we are right now, a black woman is 10 times more likely to die in childbirth than a white woman. Ken Frazier actually went on and, uh, he was talking a little later, he said, you know, he happens to think that all th that of all the things that corporate American can do to address racial disparities, the single biggest one is to hire people.

Hiring is in our wheelhouse. He goes on to say, and one of the major challenges that I think faces black Americans is that many times in companies, the job requisites, requisitions require a. Four year degree for activities or work activities only really require a certain set of skills. And so if you have a four year degree criteria or requirement, African Americans, something like 78% of African Americans don't have a four year degree, and both he and Jamie Diamond talked about this, uh, this, uh, simple way, uh, of going through all the job descriptions within your organization and really evaluating, does it require a four year degree?

And they usually . Uh, the example of a call center and they're like, you know, Jamie Diamond said, we sat back and thought about it. It's like, do we really need a four year degree to sit on a call center? And the answer was no. And there's, and I think he said like 20 some odd percent of their jobs, they eliminated that four year degree.

And in doing so, opened it up to a whole new population of people. Uh, speaking of Jamie Diman, jp, uh, he's the CEO of JP Morgan Chase. He said it's atrocious. It's health, it's education, uh, it's jobs, uh, it's, uh, even today if you go to the South Bronx, unemployment is four or five times what it is in other parts of New York City.

They don't all have computers. The teachers don't have the ability to teach by computers. So we have left behind a huge amount of American society and it's, it's been going on for quite a while. He goes on to point out, it's not just black, by the way, I think it's also the poor in these inner cities, and there's a lot to do.

There are a lot of barriers we need to get rid of, like anywhere we don't need a college screen. He goes on to talk about, uh, that challenge. He also talks about the, uh, one 10, uh, initiative. And they have a, a stated initiative to hire 1 million black people in 10 years. And they also have some efforts around for affordable housing.

And he goes on to say, you know, if, if you'll allow me the o, the optimistic thing from the murder of George Floyd is that there was all these surveys that took place about what Americans thought, and only 25 to 30% really took this racial disparity in, in inequities, uh, seriously. But afterwards, 70%. . Are now saying, holy Christ, we've gotta do something about this.

This is wrong. And he goes on to say, uh, wealthy people can drive by the worst parts of society and still build a good company and have a good life and act like it's not their problem. But it is. It's our society. They are our fellow citizens holding them back. It's holding society back. There was, this is not a zero sum game.

There are, and he goes on to say there are millions of solutions. Skills is one. And you know, you have to put branches in lower income neighborhoods and I think it's great. And you know what the best part about this is? We hire locally. And so it goes on to talk about how pharmacy should be there and big retail should be there.

Uh, because hiring is in our wheelhouse. Hiring is something we, we can do. Alright, so let's go onto some of the things that the health system said. Uh, this is from Ascension and I, I just highlight this 'cause it, you know, it, it's really, it's really pragmatic in terms of what they did. Shortly after the George Floyd tragedy, I asked my, uh, this is their CEOI asked my leadership team to develop a plan for ascension.

To do our part, to eliminate the intolerance and discrimination and create more diverse and inclusive culture. We have a team of committed associates who took the first steps to make a difference, and that work accelerated over the past few months. Together, the team developed an abide framework, which stands for appreciating belonging, inclusivity, diversity and equity.

And the abide framework will help to determine what we need to review or rebuild in our policies and practices so that we can eliminate any disparities or inequities within our ministry. Our board has also established an inclusion and diversity committee to reinforce our longstanding commitment to social justice.

This committee will ensure we have incorporated the ABIDE framework into every aspect of our national ministry, including our advocacy efforts for the most vulnerable. Again, there's a bunch of really pragmatic things. I'm gonna keep going through some of these. Advocate. Aurora next slide speaks to our diversity, equity inclusion.

It's a busy slide. I mean, let me go over it at a high level. We have a number of metrics that we are monitoring and being measured against in terms of advancing our DNI. Things like our spend, things like diver diverse states. When we have an opening in our management position, we are committed to having a diverse slate.

So we met that objective, diverse slate of candidates is another thing that was talked about a couple times. We're creating inclusion councils like so many across the country. Uh, the CEO led inclusion councils. And this is another aspect. CEOs leading the conversation, getting out there, listening, understanding.

Uh, we've got a series of conversations that are taking place that, that we call Real talk, in which we have a dialogue and discussion in the workplace about diversity and inclusion. We have modified our code of conduct and we're being very specific about social media. This is an interesting one as well, and we've checked with many across the industry, and we're all in a little slightly different place on this, but we're beginning to hold people accountable for their words and their actions, even if they're not at work.

So. If you are an advocate, we're a team member and you're expressing yourself in a manner inconsistent with our values, uh, and we become aware of it, there are consequences and we're examining all of our current internal processes and procedures. There's a lot of conversation about institutional racism, and we're trying to root it out wherever it may exist, even when it's unbeknownst to us.

But if we identify it, we're going to fix it. And then we're working in our communities recognizing that there are areas where folks are disadvantaged and do not have the opportunities others have. I really liked, uh, Laura Kaiser's quickly becoming one of my favorite presenters. Uh, she is the CEO of SSM.

Our board approved our 2021 KPIs, which include improving workforce diversity, specifically racial and ethnic diversity for leadership, and improving access. To care in all communities where we serve part of our board recruitment process. We added two wonderful board members to SSM Health to bring racial diversity and tremendous gifts and talents and depth to our dialogue perspective and work.

We added diversity training, exploring unconscious bias for our leaders. We addressed that in every one of our leadership council meetings. Over the course of the year, we updated our social socially adjusted wage policy and recently implemented a new minimum wage across our system, which affected directly 1700 of our employees.

And lastly, going forward, we're committed to understanding where we are with pay equity in gender to address any issues or gaps that we have. So, f. Um, and she goes on to talk. I, I think the other thing she addressed later is co covid was unrelenting and the health disparity was displayed in Neon in 2020.

We were also reminded of social injustice through the tragic death of George Floyd and many others. I. And the need for all of us to, to lean in to make a world a better place for everyone. So to that end, SSM Health, Dr. Alex Garza, who I previously mentioned, shifted from his role of Chief Medical Officer to Chief Community Health Officers to take those gifts and talents that he brought to SSM and apply them going forward in advancing our community health strategies.

We've also hired an operational executive. Partner on deepening our commitment to community health. We also collaborate with other health systems and we will create more public and private partnerships to benefit those we serve. I love that. There's so many things she said here, which are great. Right. Um.

So it's in the KPIs, it's being measured, it's being compensated for nothing, makes things, happens more than compensation incentives. And so it's being done there. Um, I, I love this last thing because it addresses the health inequities in our community. And by putting a physician in that role, you're putting in somebody who can see it through that lens, through the lens of a physician so they can start to address the inequities.

And the health disparities in the, in the communities that they serve. From a, from a healthcare perspective, I think it's phenomenal. You know, what's the so what? This is not their problem. This is our problem. This is not a problem that doesn't affect you and your health system. It affects all of us, every community.

This is not, uh, what we want the world we live in to look like, and it is not what we want. The world we hand to our children to look like there. There are no real perfect solutions. It's a problem that requires courage, initiative, partnerships, and dialogue. Absolutely dialogue. I will never know what it's like to be a black man or woman in our country, but they can tell me.

we can talk, we can listen to one another. We can believe the best in each other. And together we can do better. We must not lose hope. We must act with urgency. We must do better. And, uh, if you haven't had a chance today, I, I, I make it a point every year on this day, I listen to the, uh, I have a dream speech.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I listened to it in its entirety. It is . Uh, it is inspiring in so many ways from an oratory standpoint. It is, uh, it is unlike anything that has ever been done with the spoken word. Uh, but to listen to it in its in its entirety. You get more than just the clip you're gonna see on the TV news and whatnot.

Um, and one of the things I will, I will close with this. Uh, it, this is from that speech Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. We've also come to this hollowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.

Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunli path of, of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood, now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.

That's all for today. If you know someone that might benefit from our channel, please forward them a note. They can subscribe on our website this week,, or wherever you listen to podcasts. We do this every weekday morning. We take one news story and we cover it. We wanna thank . Uh, our channel sponsors for investing in our mission to develop the next generation of health IT leaders, VMware, hillrom, and Starbridge Advisors.

Thanks for listening. That's all for now.

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