How data drives health equity solutions

Published April 25, 2022

Florida Blue   executive provides leadership insights on the strategy to standardize data collection and increase community engagement to achieve health equity.

Advancements in health equity don't just happen within the health care industry. Researchers have pointed out that equity solutions are multi-dimensional. That's why Florida Blue is leveraging its leadership to bring together multiple community stakeholders that can address broader inequity issues while also developing solutions that standardize data collection and analysis to identify and drive solutions.

A holistic approach to community health starts with collecting the right type of data to help organizations understand the root causes of inequities as well as where and how to invest resources. Dr. Kelli Tice, Florida Blue's vice president of medical affairs and chief health equity officer compares this strategy to efforts to eliminate food deserts in underserved communities. "We have to shift out of a downstream intervention that addresses food insecurity with meal delivery programs. Instead, we must look upstream and ask ourselves the question, 'why are you hungry?'"

In the world of health equity, Dr. Tice says it's important to look upstream to keep the root causes of health disparities in focus. This, in part, explains Florida Blue's multi-pronged strategy that includes data collection, financial investments, training and education. The strategy moves beyond the notion that addressing health equity is an act of goodwill. Instead, the work is designed to build awareness and reverse the significant health and financial tolls that inequities place on communities.

Here are just a few ways that Florida Blue is addressing those gaps in care:

  • Florida Blue is currently conducting an assessment of sources of race, ethnicity, language, sexual orientation and gender identity (RELSOGI) among its membership, with the goal of developing a consistent set of measures to collect and analyze data to close disparity gaps.
  • Florida Blue and a few of its nonprofit partners aim to recruit and train more than 3,000 health care professionals in care facilities and health-related organizations throughout the state. The program aims to improve health equity in Florida by transforming provider behaviors and improving the quality of provider-patient interactions. The work is supported by the Florida Blue Foundation's four-year “Health Equity: Health Providers Train-the-Trainer Program” grant.
  • Health Equity is the focus of Florida Blue Foundation's annual health conference. The 2022 Community Health Symposium, Big Issues in Health: A Focus on Health Equity, will take place May 4-5, 2022, at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Hotel in Orlando, Florida.

Weaving health equity solutions into all aspects of health care is a long-term journey with no quick fix. Despite the complexity of the challenges, Dr. Tice says it's important to build on the momentum that continues to shine a light on the problem. "We want to promote and achieve equity. And we want to sustain it," she said. "It's a big job for sure, but I feel energized to be in a setting that allows us to use our influence. Not just to manage and improve the outcomes for our members, but to demonstrate some thought leadership and move other members of the business sector towards some of these goals. At the end of the day, I want everyone to be asking 'what should I be doing differently to achieve health equity?'"

In 2020, Florida Blue pledged a commitment to invest $25 million over the course of 5 years to address racial injustice and health inequities. To date, Florida Blue has invested nearly half of that amount back into communities through business initiatives and grants to nonprofit organizations devoted to advancing health equity.

Florida Blue is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, an association of independent, locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies.