I’ve long believed that healthcare is a human right.
When we talk about #HealthEquity, we talk about helping as many people as possible around the world access the medical care they need. That means discovering, developing and distributing medicines to patients, no matter their ethnic, racial, geographic or economic background.
It’s not just the right thing to do; it’s also the smart thing to do. That’s because making health equity a priority leads to better science and more innovation for all. I’m pleased that this topic is getting more attention and was honored to join a panel at #SXSW2022 in Austin, Texas with Prathibha Varkey, MBBS, MPH, MHPE, MBA, President of the Mayo Clinic Health System; Martin Mendoza, PhD, Director of Health Equity – All of Us Research Program at National Institutes of Health and moderator Moira Gunn, host of NPR’s Tech Nation.
We had a lively discussion about boosting representation in clinical research and expanding our use of virtual tools to reach more people. In my role at Bristol Myers Squibb, I’m also committed to identifying and addressing the challenges of achieving equity internationally. Across the Intercontinental region, which covers more than 70 countries worldwide, our teams work within vastly different healthcare systems, however our vision to transform people’s lives through science remains the same. Not only are we committed to demonstrating the value of certain medicines to improving people’s quality of life, we’re also exploring creative and sustainable ways to deliver them. This requires a collective effort, and no stakeholder can make it alone. That’s why events like #SXSW are so important because they allow us to share our perspectives and learn from each other.
As my fellow SXSW panelists mentioned, the entire healthcare field has benefitted from new digital health tools that were widely adopted during the covid pandemic. I believe we have a unique opportunity to use them as part of a longer-term strategy to improve health equity around the world. This is especially the case in reaching rural populations, who may live many hours from a healthcare facility.
I’m proud of a recent program BMS launched in Australia that uses telehealth platforms in clinical trials to recruit patients who live in regional and rural areas, allowing connections between patients and trial sites where otherwise there may be none.
These efforts are just a start, however. Achieving long-lasting health equity globally requires that we cultivate an inclusive mindset locally—whether it’s promoting diversity in the people we hire and the suppliers we source or supporting the causes our colleagues care about. By championing equity at work and home, we continue to set a standard that all people everywhere should have the opportunity to enjoy long and full lives.
I’m sharing this on LinkedIn because I’d like to continue the conversation. So, what does health equity mean to you?