Imagine that your neighborhood has few options for residents to purchase fresh, healthy foods. Now imagine that you run a food bank, and your clients and staff want to start a community garden to expand those options. What would you need to know to get started? The names of organizations in your community that have funding to support work on food justice would be a good place to start. You could find out about partners of academic institutions and community organizations that are helping with that food justice work and the best way to get in touch with them. What are the food justice projects already happening in your neighborhood and neighborhoods nearby?
That garden could become a reality with the Health Equity Inventory, a new, cloud-based coordination tool to help institutions and community organizations communicate with each other about their health equity work and form effective partnerships. In 2016, a group of academic medical centers and medical schools, funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), developed a spreadsheet-based tool to track and coordinate health equity efforts at their institutions and to share that information with community organizations. In 2022, the AAMC Center for Health Justice is working with Vanderbilt University Medical Center on a two-year pilot to develop an improved, cloud-based version of the tool at five sites with their community partners. The pilot institutions are:
Eastern Virginia Medical School
Oregon Health & Science University
University of California, San Francisco
University of Rochester
Vanderbilt University Medical Center
The institutions will work with partners such as churches, community centers, and youth support organizations to develop the new tool over the first six months of the pilot. Then, they will have a year to use the tool for tracking and guiding their own efforts, making improvements, and preparing the tool for wider use not only by health care organizations but by other community organizations working toward health equity. After evaluating the pilot and incorporating the changes, the improved version will be available in 2024.
The Health Equity Inventory gathers comprehensive lists of programs, initiatives, strategies, partners, and courses related to health equity across institutions’ research, clinical, education, and community engagement missions. The tool allows partners to share data and can provide reports to help identify under-resourced populations and geographic areas. For example, a community organization could use the tool to learn about a university’s health equity efforts and partner with that university on an initiative. With a data-driven approach, clear communication, and coordination, institutions and organizations will have the information they need to be the best partners they can be to their communities.
Stay tuned for updates from the pilot sites as they put the tool to the test. Can’t wait for 2024 to start inventorying health equity efforts across your institution? Download the spreadsheet-based version of the tool and its instructions now.