Harvard Pilgrim is committed to supporting the providers in our network in delivering exceptional clinical care to patients of all backgrounds. April is National Minority Health Month, and this year’s theme is one that aligns perfectly with our company values: “Accelerating Health Equity for the Nation.”
We strive to help eliminate health care disparities, while improving overall health and patient experience among the members we serve. Low health literacy, which disproportionately affects people of lower socioeconomic standing or with certain cultural or linguistic barriers, can lead to higher health care costs, poorer outcomes, and a less healthy patient population. Harvard Pilgrim recognizes the role we play in diminishing obstacles to access to care by improving health insurance literacy and being culturally competent — that is, recognizing diverse values, beliefs, and behaviors, and meeting cultural and linguistic needs across service locations.
We are building on our current capabilities to support different racial, ethnic, and limited English proficient (LEP) groups within our membership. In 2015, Harvard Pilgrim used health equity data to identify the top five most requested LEP languages (Spanish, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian, and Cantonese) in an effort to shed light on potential gaps in care and improve medical services for our members. To that end, we recently hired Celi Esquivel to serve as the Director of Health Equity, Inclusion, and Quality Improvement, a key leadership role in advancing the total population health perspective. Celi will address how Harvard Pilgrim can reduce health care disparities in various racial and ethnic vulnerable groups, as well as across multiple diverse population segments, including: socioeconomic status, education level, gender, age, rural geographic locations, veteran status, and disability.
Additional resources and information
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) “Cultural Respect” webpage addresses the role those in health care can play in promoting cultural competence. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) website also offers some useful materials related to cultural competence and health literacy. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website provides demographic data identifying the prevalence of chronic disease in diverse groups, along with population statistics.
Please contact Celi Esquivel at Celi_Esquivel@harvardpilgrim.org with questions or input regarding our efforts to eliminate health care disparities and deliver culturally and linguistically appropriate services to all our members.