Assessing VHA’s health equity through a diversity, equity and inclusion lens: Aptive has vast experience conducting assessments on various VHA strategic initiatives. With certified diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) subject matter experts (SME) and a thorough understanding of VHA’s health care system and the different interdependencies of Veteran populations and families, Aptive was uniquely positioned to assist VHA.
Assessing VHA’s current health equity operations
The team adapted a Government Accountability Office methodology to conduct program assessments. The assessment’s purpose was to:
- Identify program fragmentation, overlap and duplication
- Identify the effects of program fragmentation, overlap and duplication
- Validate effects and assess and compare programs
- Identify options to increase efficiency and reduce fragmentation, overlap and duplication
The assessment focused on identifying the current situation through stakeholder interviews, quality audits, qualitative and quantitative research and literature reviews. Aptive’s DEI SMEs conducted 44 virtual stakeholder interviews with VHA leaders and program offices. In addition, the team consulted seven external health systems to learn industry best practices in establishing health equity operations. Finally, the literature review of 42 health equity-centered publications helped further identify best practices.
Developing actionable recommendations
Once the assessment was complete, the team analyzed the results and developed initial findings. The analysis yielded themes that would inform effective and proven solutions to improve health equity, including:
- Leadership engagement and accountability through a comprehensive enterprise-wide national strategy
- Uniform awareness and understanding of health equity and social determinants of health through a new Champion Network
- Standardized data collection tools to address health disparities
- Improved cultural competency through more training, recruiting, retention and performance management
- Community partnerships to engage with the entire Veteran patient population
These solutions were incorporated into a recommendations report and implementation plan.