CHC Highlights: Advancing Equity with PHMI

Committed to their community, West County Health Centers cover a wide geographic area spanning West Sonoma County, from Sebastopol to Guerneville. The population they serve is amongst the area’s most vulnerable, and their participation with PHMI is empowering them to prioritize an approach to clinical operation through an equity lens.

The West County team is working with PHMI coach Jim Meyers, who has extensive experience in coaching and a background in addressing equity in health care. He has contributed to various initiatives in California, having served as a Population Health Subject Matter Expert for the Department of Defense, and held teaching positions at UC Berkeley and Baylor University. Utilizing his expertise, Meyers is engaging in discussions with PHMI Community Health Centers (CHCs) to encourage a more deliberate approach to equity.

Complementing West County’s interest in equity, Meyers implemented an “Equity Time Out” intervention during the monthly core team meeting. Inspired by a surgeon’s “time out” before surgery, Meyers used an equity driver diagram developed by PHMI to prompt meaningful dialogue on ensuring the most equitable approach to population health management for vulnerable patients.

The discussion included questions such as:

How well are we setting up equity in population health management for our most vulnerable patients? And, How do we know?

“West County is a perfect example of coaching in an environment that is conducive to growth. Everyone is showing up with their expertise and workflows, and representing the extra voice that is the most underserved,” said Meyers.

Several ideas emerged from the “Equity Time Out” session, including:

  • The need to stratify data to highlight inequities more clearly, such as by language preference.
  • Opportunities to seek feedback from Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) on how well the needs of the most underserved populations are met, starting with CBOs serving those communities.
  • Recognition that care team workflows could be improved to better identify social determinants of health
  • Interest and necessity for a separate monthly session focusing on equity, with key CHC members participating.

“Our mission is to serve our most vulnerable from an equity lens, and through PHMI, we have power to change and are creating systems,” said Jason Cunningham, DO, Chief Executive Officer, West County Health Centers. “We’re thinking about how these systems translate into outcomes that will affect real individuals.”