January 02, 2019, 10:36 am Chris Crawford – The EveryONE Project from the AAFP had a busy 2018 creating a comprehensive toolkit and other resources family physicians can use to address social determinants of health (SDOH) in their practices and communities throughout 2019 and beyond.
Danielle Jones, M.P.H., manager of the AAFP's Center for Diversity and Health Equity, said the Academy also launched its inaugural Health Equity Fellowship program last year, with three family physicians from throughout the country rounding out the first class.
"This new program is designed to cultivate a cohort of family medicine physicians who will be considered subject matter experts on the social, institutional and cultural influences that impact health," Jones told AAFP News. "At the completion of the fellowship, participants will be called upon to act as family medicine leaders capable of impacting change in their local communities and primary care roles by sharing their experience and demonstrating their leadership."
The EveryONE Project toolkit consists of three parts.
The first of these, Practice Leadership for Health Equity, focuses on enabling medical practices to create an organizational culture that values health equity and develop team-based approaches for addressing patients' social determinants of health.
Resources offered in this section of the toolkit are designed to aid family physicians in building a culture of health equity at the practice level by showing them how they can learn about patients' communities, reveal unstated assumptions and potential biases among practice staff, and adopt a practice-wide approach to improve health equity.
The second part of the toolkit, Assessment and Action, offers tools to help with the screening and referral processes that are outlined in the first part of the toolkit.
Finally, since health inequities are primarily caused by social and cultural issues, the third part of the toolkit, Community Collaboration and Advocacy, provides information and resources to help family physicians engage with their community and advocate policies that have been shown to reduce health inequities.
Jones said the toolkit's value lies in its ability to arm family physicians and their organizations with a process and the necessary tools to address SDOH and health equity both upstream and downstream -- all in a single resource.
"Plus, knowing it's from a trusted source such as the AAFP provides members and their organizations with much needed confidence that this is work they can not only do effectively, but with the support of the AAFP," she said.
"It's our hope that family physicians continue to use the resources for ongoing education for themselves and members of their practice team. We plan to continuously update the existing resources and develop new ones so that the toolkit remains current as the evidence on this topic continues to advance."
Kevin Kovach, Dr.P.H., M.Sc., population health manager in the AAFP Health of the Public and Science Division, added that The EveryONE Project team encourages members to use the Academy's health equity issue briefs to work with their organizational leaders and elected officials to ensure good decisions are made that support health equity and community health.
As for what's to come in 2019, Jones said members can expect The EveryONE Project to provide additional resources on topics such as implicit bias -- specifically, curriculum for those in residency and training for those in practice that will be of significant value to family physicians in delivering culturally proficient care aimed at reducing health inequities.
Additionally, The EveryONE Project expects to post a plan from the AAFP on how it aims to diversify the medical workforce and will create more issue briefs members can use to communicate complex health equity topics to stakeholders.
Kovach said the AAFP also will work collaboratively with chapters to develop plans for building capacity to advance health equity by addressing SDOH.
Finally, in October, Jones said the AAFP will convene a Health Equity Summit to bring together a diverse group of global thought leaders.
"The summit will be designed to promote the building of collaborative partnerships among family medicine organizations, other primary care clinicians and their organizations, public health experts, educators, researchers, trainees, advocates, policy experts, social service organizations, patients, and community members," Jones said.
During the summit, participants will develop collective action plans and identify ways these collaborations can make reducing health disparities and achieving health equity a strategic priority within and across all participating organizations and partnerships, Jones concluded.
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