Health equity provides everyone the chance to be as healthy as they can be. It allows for a fair and just opportunity for everyone to attain their optimal level of health regardless of their race, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic status, geography, preferred language, or other factors that prevent them from achieving their best health. Social and economic disadvantage presents obstacles that result in health disparities and avoidable differences in health among population groups. Social determinants of health (SDOH) are conditions in which people live, learn, work, play, and worship that affect their health outcomes.
The federal government is committed to advancing equity and racial justice and supporting underserved communities as directed in Executive Order (EO) 13985 issued by President Biden. The EO recognizes that disparities exist in our laws, public policies, and institutions that deny equal opportunities to individuals and communities including equitable delivery of government benefits.
As the nation’s largest healthcare payer, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) plays a major role in eliminating health disparities among people who are disadvantaged or underserved by their programs. To advance their efforts to reduce health disparities, CMS has made health equity the first pillar of their Strategic Plan and is imbedding health equity into their core functions. The CMS Office of Minority Health (OMH) is tasked with leading the advancement and integration of health equity in CMS’s policies, programs, and partnerships. OMH has developed the CMS Framework for Health Equity with five priority areas:
- Expand the Collection, Reporting, and Analysis of Standardized Data;
- Assess Causes of Disparities Within CMS Programs, and Address Inequities in Policies and Operations to Close Gaps;
- Build Capacity of Health Care Organizations and The Workforce to Reduce Health and Health Care Disparities;
- Advance Language Access, Health Literacy, and the Provision of Culturally Tailored Services; and
- Increase All Forms of Accessibility to Health Care Services and Coverage.
Softrams' shares the federal government’s commitment to making the world a better place by building innovative products and providing modern digital services that bridge the gap between technology and usability. We work on the frontlines with federal agencies including CMS to bring tangible results that in turn positively impact millions of Americans. Our work on the Accountable Care Organization Management System (ACO-MS) supports CMS in advancing innovative payment and service delivery models to help move our health care system to one that rewards providers for keeping patients healthy, improving health outcomes, and lowering costs. The ACO-MS supports Priority 3 of the CMS Health Equity Framework to build capacity of healthcare organizations and the workforce to reduce health and health care disparities by reducing administrative burden on ACOs and meeting the expanding needs of the Shared Savings Plan (SSP). The ACO-MS allows ACOs to focus on delivering quality care and bringing the benefits of accountable care to underserved communities. Our work on the ACO-MS assists the Center for Medicine in exploring and testing interventions that transform health care delivery to underserved communities and reduce health disparities.
ACO-MS leverages a modern scalable architecture, including platforms and solutions using an agile delivery and a human-centered design approach to meet the needs of the SSP ACOs, CMS staff and other stakeholders. Our approach to human-centered design allows us to build systems like the ACO-MS that meet the objectives of its users. Because of these improvements and enhanced efficiencies of the system, 92% of eligible ACO's earned quality improvement reward points in 2019 and modeled the greatest improvements in patient safety and care coordination quality domains which in turn, moves the needle toward more equitable healthcare for all Americans.