Is “Health Equity” the same as “DEI” effort?

Actually, no. While these phrases are often used interchangeably, they refer to two distinct areas of study, action, and policy. In short, the foundational term DEI” often refers to representation, fairness in resources, belonging, and valuing uniqueness. In contrast, Health Equity” is the societal goal of everyone having a fair and just opportunity to attain their highest level of health.

Both areas are instrumental in moving our healthcare profession forward to meet the needs of the populations we serve. Further, while there are many areas of overlap and interdependency, understanding the uniqueness of health equity can provide clarity to your strategic plans, while fostering broader engagement and support.

The good news is that many healthcare organizations and companies are recognizing this distinction and are investing in specific resources to promote health equity goals. For example, health systems are prioritizing social drivers/determinants of health (SDOH) resources. Medical device companies are creating opportunities to contribute to health equity initiatives.

Insurance payors, including Blue Cross Blue Shield, are publishing data on the cost savings achieved by resourcing health-related social needs (HRSNs), such as food insecurity and transportation, which is crucial for value based care plans. Practice organizations are recognizing that equity in care promotes increased quality and outcomes. And let’s not forget that evaluations from accrediting groups, such as the Joint Commission, are specifically inquiring about health equity initiatives as part of their site visits.

As leaders and experts, we stand in an exciting position to advocate for health equity and its innumerable benefits. We have the privilege of creating specific goals focused on decreasing the multitude of health disparities that exist across various populations as part of our greater DEI strategies. Thus, it is critical that we understand the nuances of health equity so that we can articulate our goals effectively and pursue productive collaborations.

Interested in learning more about health equity? Start by checking out this recent pivotal panel facilitated by members of Duke Orthopaedics on Social Drivers of Health. You’ll recognize some familiar faces from our ODLC family and there is a link included to watch the recording.

Drop me a message with your thoughts.

Dr. Taylor


Click this link or the image below to view the Grand Rounds – Social Drivers of Health Panel Discussion from October 5th, 2023.

Panel Addresses the Social Drivers of Health