Efforts to improve health in the U.S. have traditionally looked to the health care system as the key driver of health and health outcomes. However, there has been increased recognition that improving health and achieving health equity will require broader approaches that address social, economic, and environmental factors that influence health. “Health equity” or “equity in health” implies that ideally everyone should have a fair opportunity to attain their full health potential and that no one should be disadvantaged from achieving this potential.
Equity in health care should be available for all people regardless of social, economic, demographic or geographic status. Alaska Hospitals and Long Term Care facilities are engaged in active work to provide equal access to care. However, “Health Equity” is much more than just access to medical care. Equity in health also means having the ability to maintain optimal health through access to affordable foods, housing, clean water, immunizations and clean harm free environments each being a key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The goal, reduce the need for medical intervention by achieving one’s own health potential with access to life necessities. Specific social determinants of health have been shown to result in increased hospitalizations, increased length of stays and frequent re-admissions.
ASHNHA’s Patient Safety Committee has determined addressing social determinants of health as a top priority. ASHNHA is supporting our members to collaborate, develop plans, share resources and spread best practice to improve our communities health, help address identified social determinants and reduce re-admissions.
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