AAMC and VUMC Launch Cloud-Based Tool to Index Health Inequities

Farma Darya

According to an April 21 article, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) has unveiled a pilot project with Nashville, Tenn.-based Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) to build a cloud-based tool to inventory community-based activities to address health inequities.

The article says that “In 2016, through a project with the AAMC, a group of academic medical centers and medical schools, funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 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 VUMC on a two-year pilot to develop an improved, cloud-based version of the tool at five sites with their community partners,” the article adds. “The other pilot institutions include Eastern Virginia Medical School, Oregon Health & Science University, the University of California, San Francisco, and the University of Rochester.”

The article explains that AAMC chose to partner with VUMC because of its REDCap database—a proprietary platform used for large-scale data collection. VUMC will work with partners like statewide advocacy groups, public health departments, and community-based organizations, alongside the pilot sites, to develop the tool for the first six months of the pilot. After that, the group will have a year to prepare the tool for broader use by healthcare and community organizations that are working to improve health equity. The improved version is set to be available in 2024.

That said, “The Health Equity Inventory (HEI) 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 provide reports to help identify populations and geographic areas impacted by inequities. 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, this new initiative engages VUMC and community partners who will work in tandem to redesign an inventory. At the end of the project, the plan is to also scale the HEI to other academic medical centers (AMCs) so the AAMC can paint a more comprehensive picture of the community health and benefit mission of AMCs.”

Elisa Friedman, associate vice president for community health and health equity at VUMC was quoted in the article saying that “To address the complex issues at the root of health inequities, we need to develop systems-level solutions and understand how the ‘parts’ fit together to move the needle.”

“Ultimately, this project will benefit our patients and communities because solutions to improving health outcomes lie in developing partnerships beyond our walls, leveraging and synergizing efforts to optimize our impact on health equity,” she adds. 


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