ACP Releases Framework to Reduce Healthcare Disparities

The ACP makes recommendations to reduce healthcare disparities and disrimination.

In an effort to mitigate healthcare disparities and discrimination, the American College of Physicians (ACP) released a framework of high-level principles and recommendations on such issues.

The organization recommends U.S. policymakers commit to understanding and addressing disparities in health and healthcare related to a person’s race, ethnicity, religion, and cultural identity “to enhance the quality and effectiveness of healthcare for all,” according to ACP’s mission. Further, ACP recommends policymakers address the interconnected contributors to health and healthcare disparities, including the role of racism, discrimination, lack of coverage and access to care, poverty, and other social drivers of health.

Josh Serchen, B.A., and the team for the Health and Public Policy Committee of the ACP believe public policy needs support efforts to acknowledge, address, and manage preconceived perceptions and implicit biases by physicians and other clinicians. They believe healthcare facilities and medical schools and their clinicians and students would benefit from being incentivized to use patient-centered and culturally appropriate methods to make the healthcare system free of discriminatory practices.

What’s more, a diverse and inclusive physician workforce is necessary to promote equity and understanding among clinicians and patients and to facilitate quality care. Policymakers can strengthen U.S. education to add diversity in medical education and in the physician workforce. Public policy should also strive to address the disproportionate effect on those at greatest risk because of their personal characteristics. It is important to acknowledge the long history of racism, discrimination, abuse, forced relocation, and other injustices experienced.

The team believes healthcare delivery and payment systems should support physician-led, team-based, and patient- and family-centered care that is easily accessible to those affected by discrimination and social determinants of health.

The ACP hopes the framework provides a comprehensive and interconnected set of policies to address some of the most important issues that contribute to health disparities. The framework could help to better understand the policy recommendations that make up ACP’s vision to eliminate health disparities.

The paper, “A Comprehensive Policy Framework to Understand and Address Disparities and Discrimination in Health and Health Care: A Policy Paper From the American College of Physicians,” was published online in Annals of Internal Medicine.