Accelerate Health Equity launches with new approach to health inequality in Philadelphia

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Collaboration brings together organizations from across the region to drive change

Philadelphia — March 16, 2022 — Accelerate Health Equity launches today, bringing together organizations across the region to produce tangible improvement in health inequities, and ultimately achieve measurable, positive changes in health outcomes in Philadelphia. With the tagline “Working Together for a Healthier Philadelphia,” AmeriHealth Caritas, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the City of Philadelphia, Drexel University, Independence Blue Cross, Jefferson Health, Main Line Health, Penn Medicine, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Temple Health and Trinity Health Mid-Atlantic are joining forces to take a new approach to health equity.

Philadelphia has consistently ranked last out of the state’s 67 counties in County Health Rankings based on data analyzing quality of life, health factors, clinical care, social and economic factors and physical environment. This collaboration brings together organizations who serve City residents in a joint commitment to combat systemic racism and barriers to achieving health equity. Accelerate Health Equity is digging deep into the data and shaping pilot programs to address health conditions and social determinants of health.

“As a City, we are strongest when we work together, which is why we are so pleased to work with these outstanding local organizations to lead the way to building a healthier and more equitable Philadelphia. This collaboration and ability to scale successful pilots will be vital in breaking down systemic inequities and racial disparities that have affected the health and well-being of our communities,” said Cheryl Bettigole, M.D, M.P.H, City of Philadelphia’s Health Commissioner.

Accelerate Health Equity includes three core components:

  • Launching Pilot Programs: Individual pilot programs tied to identified areas that impact health outcomes.
  • Measuring Progress: A publicly available digital health equity dashboard based on data provides an in-depth view of 16 health equity challenge areas and will also track progress of pilot programs.
  • Collaborating to Scale: Pilot programs will be evaluated and information will be disseminated to inform health and service providers and quickly scale successful pilot programs to expand their reach and impact.

It is hoped that this effort will accelerate the pace of progress. Participating organizations are working together to design measurable pilot programs to combat disparities ranging from issues like maternal morbidity and mortality; to cancer screening and prevention; to neighborhood conditions and reducing the risk of heart disease and moreThese specific disparities were chosen after a review of the County Health Rankings and the Community Health Needs Assessment data and neighborhood analyses identified them as the most urgent issues.

Initial pilot programs include: Housing Smart from Temple Health focusing on housing and support services for people without housing; Closing the Gap,  Jefferson Health’s partnership with Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation that looks at social determinants of health that impact cardiovascular health outcomes in low-resource communities; Independence Blue Cross’s and AmeriHealth Caritas’s Keystone Connection to Wellness with Project HOME focused on maternal health outcomes; Penn Medicine’s focus on heart attack risk reduction through its Penn Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease (ASCVD) Risk Reduction Program; and Together For West Philadelphia, an initiative chaired by leaders from Main Line Health and Trinity Mid-Atlantic to maximize the impact of health equity in West Philadelphia.

Community input and partnership will be a critical part of Accelerate Health Equity projects. Ultimately, the intent is for this work to improve the health of our friends and neighbors and serve as a model to help other communities.

About Accelerate Health Equity

Accelerate Health Equity is a multi-year initiative that brings together organizations across the Philadelphia region to combat systemic racism and barriers in healthcare. It’s designed to produce tangible improvement in these issues and, ultimately, positive change in health outcomes in Philadelphia. 


Quotes from participating organizations 

Madeline Bell, President and CEO, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

“Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is honored to be a partner in the Accelerate Health Equity initiative. At CHOP, we are committed to addressing the healthcare disparities that prevent children in underserved communities from having the best possible health outcomes. The missions of the Accelerate Health Equity initiative and our own Center for Health Equity are perfectly aligned because we know that to truly change health outcomes, we need to make an impact on the environment that children live in by ensuring they have access to healthy food and housing and addressing trauma and other factors that affect their health. By working together, we have a real opportunity to change the landscape of health in Philadelphia – right here, and right now.”


Sandra E. Brooks, MD, MBA, Executive Vice President and Chief Community Health Equity Officer at Jefferson Health

"In order to make a substantial impact on the advancement of health equity, we must work collaboratively with the families we serve, community-based organizations, and each other. Accelerate Health Equity will bring the strength and focus of major regional entities to bear on the huge gaps in health outcomes experienced by vulnerable populations. That is fundamentally why the Philadelphia Collaborative for Health Equity was founded, and why we are excited about this important initiative.”


Christopher Cullom, President, Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital, a member of Trinity Health Mid-Atlantic

“Health equity starts with a strong vision accompanied by action, and I am proud to be a steering committee member of this critical initiative with other change agents from neighboring Greater Philadelphia health systems. Trinity Health’s mission has always been to provide the very best care possible to people from all walks of life. Racism has no place in our society, period; including healthcare. Accelerate Health Equity is embarking on groundbreaking work to transform the healthcare landscape as we know it and doing so in a collaborative fashion. This is truly an exciting time.”


Gregory E. Deavens, President and Chief Executive Officer, Independence Blue Cross

“We’re proud to work alongside so many esteemed organizations to identify and understand health equity issues that have plagued Philadelphia for far too long. In 2020, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) and all its member plans made a pledge to, among other things, work within our communities to pursue equality and good health for all. In 2021, BCBSA, Independence, and other Blue Plans announced a national health equity strategy. Our efforts here in Philadelphia County are aligned with this strategy and our commitment to equality and good health for all. We recognize that health outcomes are impacted by many factors, from jobs and income levels to underlying health conditions, food security, and housing. This initiative allows us to build on readily available data, optimize and focus collective stakeholder resources, and drive change on a wider scale.”


Jay S. Feldstein, DO, President and Chief Executive Officer, PCOM

“At Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, our commitment to health equity is holistic. Our student admissions process begins with our belief in diversity, equity, and inclusion; we understand that it is more important than ever to educate a diverse healthcare team that looks like all the different patients they care for. Our commitment extends to our curriculum through which we teach—didactically and clinically—that social determinants of health have a profound effect on morbidity and mortality. And health equity lives in our PCOM Healthcare Centers where we provide access to quality health care and respond to the vital needs of our community.”


John Fry, President of Drexel University

“This new chapter of collaboration across leading academic, healthcare, and other public service institutions begins not a moment too soon. We need to develop more innovative research and better knowledge-sharing across all community partners in order to deliver quality care and resources to those who need it in every corner of the region.”


Jack Lynch, FACHE, President and Chief Executive Officer, Main Line Health

“Collaboration is key and a successful example of that is how we’ve all worked together throughout the pandemic with ongoing work to do. Racism is also a public health crisis, and if we’re going to truly address disparities of care, we have to come together to make it happen. At Main Line Health, we know we can't do this alone and are excited about the collaboration Accelerate Health Equity brings so we can eliminate disparities of care.”


Raina Merchant, MD, Professor of Emergency Medicine, Associate Vice President/Digital Health, Director, Center for Digital Health, University of Pennsylvania Health System 

“Accelerate Health Equity is a collaborative initiative which aims to amplify existing health equity focused work in the region and advance new evidenced-based approaches to address social determinants of health and health outcomes.”


Paul A. Tufano, Chairman and CEO, AmeriHealth Caritas

“We have all seen how unaddressed disparities in income, jobs, education and housing can have real consequences on people’s health and life outcomes. AmeriHealth Caritas launched a new company, Social Determinants of Life Inc., in order to improve access to these essential resources and services in order to help people out of poverty and onto the pathway of prosperity and maximum independence. We’re committed to empowering those in need, especially the underserved and the disabled, across their full life journey, from wellness to resilience, in order to reach their American Dream.”


Kevin Volpp, MD, PhD, Director, Penn Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics (CHIBE), Division Chief, Health Policy, Dept of Medical Ethics and Health Policy, Perelman School of Medicine and the Wharton School

“I am excited about this regional health equity collaborative and the opportunity for health systems in our region, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, and Independence Blue Cross to come together to work towards the common goal of improving health and health equity in our region.”


Michael Young, President and Chief Executive Officer, Temple University Health System

"To address health inequality effectively, organizations must create partnerships that reduce healthcare disparities and ensure that our vulnerable communities receive the best medical care and available social resources.  Accelerate Health Equity provides a partnership platform for applying innovative concepts to the delivery of healthcare in communities with disproportionally lower access to healthcare resources. Partnering organizations are working in the community to identify projects that broadly address key topics such as maternal and infant mortality, cancer screening and prevention, food access and affordability, obesity and diabetes, behavioral health, and housing insecurity. Partnerships work, and we’re excited to be participating with Accelerate Health Equity.

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