A new first-of-its-kind data book released by the University of Utah’s Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute provides key insights to help government and community leaders make progress on equity, diversity, and inclusion efforts.
The report examines the relationship between things like race, ethnicity, and gender to life expectancy, family stability, and social mobility in Utah. The report shows the state is leading the nation in many areas, but also has wide disparities in education, housing, and health outcomes for most minority groups.
Intermountain’s Healthcare’s system equity goals are focused on reducing disparities and creating equity for caregivers and patients that it serves.
“We’re committed to ensuring our mission – helping people live the healthiest lives possible – applies to everyone,” says Mikelle Moore, Intermountain’s senior vice president and chief community health officer.
That’s why equity is now a fundamental value and guiding principle at Intermountain.
Intermountain leaders plan to use insights from the data book to better understand who in the communities needs support and, over time, help the health system determine if the work it’s doing in partnership with state leaders in healthcare, education, policy, business, and development is making progress.
“Having this broad community data will help us engage in conversations with other sectors about how to work together to address the social determinants of health, like housing, education, and workforce development,” said Moore. “And having the data will help us better understand the needs of our caregivers, patients, members, and community, and respond to those needs.”
The data and context provided in the report shed light on existing disparities; help people understand the complexities of these measures; and help provide a starting point for evaluating future progress.
The data, while multi-layered and complex, show Utah’s minority populations are more likely to have less income and wealth, higher poverty rates, lower educational achievement and attainment, less home ownership, and higher housing cost burdens.
“Equity is about more than just race, although that is an essential element, said Moore. “Racism is a public health crisis and one that needs to be addressed nationwide. Intermountain is taking bold steps to lead discussions and collaborate with fellow health systems on this topic.”
In addition to the race/ethnicity data, the data book shows Utah women, among other differences, exhibit lower unemployment rates, higher education enrollment rates, and longer life expectancy than men, but lower incomes and higher rates of adult depression and asthma than men.
“The databook serves as an invitation for all Utahns to engage in constructive and meaningful conversations about racial, ethnic, and sex disparities in Utah,” said Natalie Gochnour, director of the Gardner Institute. “The data, coupled with Utah’s many inherent strengths, will inspire a thoughtful and well-informed discourse about how to lift people and improve our state.”
The report also presents Utah’s high levels of social capital, family stability, income equality, and social mobility as valuable state assets that can help address disparities and improve people’s lives.
In addition to presenting disparities, the report highlights recent actions by state and community leaders and several of the Beehive State’s strengths. Gov. Spencer J. Cox made equality and opportunity one of his six major priorities in his strategic plan, the One Utah Roadmap.
In addition, prior to its 2021 general session, the Legislature prioritized extending economic opportunity for all as one of three pillars of policy focus. As a result, lawmakers sent several bills to the governor’s desk that reduced taxes for Utah families, expanded health insurance for Utah children, made record investments in affordable housing, as well as additional actions that broaden access to resources in health, education, and housing.
The Legislature also made significant investments in public education, including funding enrollment growth and inflation, as well as restoring a 6% increase in per student funding and funding $121 million for teacher bonuses.
“As the state’s largest healthcare provider, we’ve long believed that Utah has a historic opportunity to lead the nation in ensuring better and more equitable health outcomes in all the communities we serve,” said Marc Harrison MD, President, and CEO of Intermountain Healthcare. “There’s much more work to do, and the data provided in this report will help further illuminate the path forward to educate, inspire, and proactively create an equitable community. With this data, we will continue our longstanding work to address underlying health disparities by investing in strategies to address social determinants of health, including food insecurity, access to quality education, and affordable housing.”
Get more information about the University of Utah’s Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute and their research here.
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