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AAMC launches Health Equity Inventory at VUMC

Apr. 21, 2022, 9:23 AM


by Taylor Engdahl

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) has launched a pilot project with Vanderbilt University Medical Center to develop a cloud-based tool to inventory community-based activities to address health inequities.

In 2016, through a project with the AAMC, a group of academic medical centers and medical schools, funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, developed a spreadsheet-based tool to track and coordinate health equity efforts at their institutions and to share that information with community organizations.

In 2022, the AAMC Center for Health Justice is working with VUMC on a two-year pilot to develop an improved, cloud-based version of the tool at five sites with their community partners. The other pilot institutions include Eastern Virginia Medical School, Oregon Health & Science University, the University of California, San Francisco, and the University of Rochester.

AAMC is partnering with VUMC primarily for its REDCap database, a proprietary platform used for large-scale data collection that can collate the health equity efforts for the inventory. Paul Harris, PhD, professor of Biomedical Informatics and the creator of REDCap, will be working with the OHE to gather the information for the pilot project.

“In 2019, VUMC launched our OHE, which has a goal of catalyzing health equity initiatives across the Medical Center and in our community,” said Consuelo Wilkins, MD, MSCI, Senior Vice President and senior associate dean for Health Equity and Inclusive Excellence. “The AAMC’s Health Equity Inventory played an important role in helping establish OHE, and we are thrilled to partner with AAMC’s Center for Health Justice to engage community partners in redesigning the Health Equity Inventory.”

Along with fellow pilot sites, VUMC will work with partners such as statewide advocacy groups, public health departments and community-based organizations to develop the new tool over the first six months of the pilot.

Then, they will have a year to use the tool to track and guide their efforts, make improvements, and prepare the tool for broader use by health care organizations and other community organizations working toward health equity. After evaluating the pilot and incorporating the changes, the improved version will be available in 2024.

The Health Equity Inventory gathers comprehensive lists of programs, initiatives, strategies, partners and courses related to health equity across institutions’ research, clinical, education and community engage- ment missions. The tool allows partners to share data and provide reports to help identify populations and geographic areas impacted by inequities. For example, a community organization could use the tool to learn about a university’s health equity efforts and partner with that university on an initiative. With a data-driven approach, clear communication and coordination, this new initiative engages VUMC and community partners who will work in tandem to redesign an inventory. At the end of the project, the plan is to also scale the HEI to other academic medical centers (AMCs) so the AAMC can paint a more comprehensive picture of the community health and benefit mission of AMCs.

“To address the complex issues at the root of health inequities, we need to develop systems-level solutions and understand how the ‘parts’ fit together to move the needle,” said Elisa Friedman, MS, the associate vice president for Community Health and Health Equity at VUMC.

“Ultimately, this project will benefit our patients and communities because solutions to improving health outcomes lie in developing partnerships beyond our walls, leveraging and synergizing efforts to optimize our impact on health equity.”

If you have a project at VUMC addressing health inequities, please share your efforts with the Office of Health Equity by filling out a survey here.

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