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In Focus

Independence Blue Cross Foundation convenes national Health Equity Forum in Philadelphia to drive action in medical education, digital health, and maternal health

Outcomes of the Forum will inform the Foundation’s $15M investment to create systems-level change in advancing health equity

For the first time in our region, the Independence Blue Cross Foundation Institute for Health Equity (Institute) is convening hundreds of regional and national leaders representing academic medicine, national professional medical organizations, regional health systems, nonprofit organizations, government, and philanthropy to drive action in medical education, digital health and maternal health. The three-day Health Equity Forum drives sustainable, collaborative change in our region and is a model for the nation.

“One year ago, we expanded our commitment to create actionable change through our Institute for Health Equity,” says Lorina Marshall-Blake, president of the Foundation. “This Health Equity Forum is one of the many ways we’re catalyzing ideas into action and demonstrates what our Institute was created to achieve. We are delighted to bring together many of our region and nation’s most respected thought leaders on these critical issues.”

Day one (April 11): Equity in Medical Education Summit (The National Constitution Center)

The first day of the Health Equity Forum addresses disparities in the physician workforce in partnership with the Delaware Valley DEI Consortium, a coalition of diversity, equity, and inclusion deans and faculty from seven medical, graduate, and allied-health schools in the Philadelphia area. With one of every six U.S. doctors trained in Philadelphia, this Forum is uniquely positioned to outline changes and investments needed to improve how all medical students are trained to treat a diverse patient population.

“In the past two decades, not a lot has changed to increase the number of underrepresented professionals in medicine, despite research that shows patients have better health outcomes when they receive care by providers who look like them or to whom they can relate,” says Dr. Leon McCrea, Senior Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and Associate Professor of Family, Community, and Preventive Medicine, Drexel University College of Medicine. “We commend the Foundation for partnering with us in taking this leadership role to further address the problem and bring together the people who can make change happen.” 

Forum Leadership panel pictured left to right: Dr. John Paul Sánchez Executive Associate Vice Chancellor, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion University of New Mexico; Dr. Ana Núñez, Vice Dean, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, University of Minnesota School of Medicine, Dr. Edith Peterson Mitchell, Associate Director, Diversity Affairs, Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson, Gregory Deavens, president and CEO, Independence Blue Cross.

Forum Leadership panel pictured left to right: Dr. John Paul Sánchez Executive Associate Vice Chancellor, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion University of New Mexico; Dr. Ana Núñez, Vice Dean, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, University of Minnesota School of Medicine, Dr. Edith Peterson Mitchell, Associate Director, Diversity Affairs, Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson, Gregory Deavens, president and CEO, Independence Blue Cross.

Day two (April 12): Equity in Digital Health (Independence Blue Cross)

The Institute commissioned the first study in our region on the current practices, barriers, and gaps in the use of digital health services for underserved individuals in a post pandemic environment. Day two of the Forum (April 12) provides Foundation-supported community health centers with insights from the study and shapes a regional effort to improve digital health engagement in their patient populations. This is a critical initiative to improve access to care in every community.

Day three (April 13): Equity in Maternal Health (Independence Blue Cross)

Joining the national observance of Black Maternal Health Week, the final day of the Forum focuses on actionable next steps to achieve equity in maternal health care. According to a report by the Philadelphia Maternal Mortality Review Committee, Non-Hispanic Black women accounted for 73% of pregnancy-related deaths in Philadelphia, but only account for 43% of births.

Day 3 of the Forum addresses this crisis on multiple levels, opening with Pennsylvania Representative Morgan B. Cephas to discuss maternal health policy and legislation, and continues with dialogue about equity in maternal care related to Black maternal health, the modern birth center movement, the maternal care workforce, and perinatal mental health.

About the Independence Blue Cross Foundation

The Independence Blue Cross Foundation is leading a future for equitable health in our communities and nation. The IBC Foundation’s grant programs and the Independence Blue Cross Foundation Institute for Health Equity are advancing three areas of impact: Access to Care, the Healthcare Workforce, and Health Equity.

Since inception the IBC Foundation’s most important stakeholder – the community – has been at the center of the work. By the end of 2023, the IBC Foundation will have awarded grants totaling more than $80 million to support nonprofits and research improving the health and well-being of communities in southeastern Pennsylvania.

Independence Blue Cross Foundation is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

Learn more by visiting our website: ibxfoundation.org. Connect with the Independence Blue Cross Foundation on LinkedIn.

Independence Blue Cross Foundation Team

The Independence Blue Cross Foundation is leading a future for equitable health in our communities and nation. The IBX Foundation’s grant programs and the Independence Blue Cross Foundation Institute for Health Equity are advancing three areas of impact: Access to Care, the Healthcare Workforce, and Health Equity. Since inception the IBX Foundation’s most important stakeholder – the community – has been at the center of the work. By the end of 2023, the IBX Foundation will have awarded grants totaling more than $80 million to support nonprofits and research improving the health and well-being of communities in southeastern Pennsylvania.

Learn more by visiting our website: ibxfoundation.org. Connect with the Independence Blue Cross Foundation on LinkedIn.