Equity-Oriented Health Care

Ensuring the equitable delivery of health and wellness services is a critical part of advancing high-quality care across a health system.

Equity in health care refers to the just distribution of services and benefits according to population need. As one of the seven Dimensions of Quality, equity involves understanding the people being served, focusing on the social determinants of health, overcoming structural barriers – i.e., those “built-in” to policies, systems and services – and eliminating systemic oppression such as racism and other forms of discrimination to address gaps in experience and outcome.

Equity is demonstrated when health systems and health care is delivered in ways that support people to achieve their health and wellness goals regardless of social, economic or geographic location. It does not mean that everyone must receive the exact same care, because individuals have different experiences, histories and needs.

Equity-oriented health care (EOHC) is about directing adequate resources to those with the greatest needs. EQUIP Health Care is a research and implementation program that involves health equity interventions implemented in a range of health care settings. The interventions are designed to enhance organizational capacity to provide EOHC, particularly for people who experience significant health and social inequities. EOHC aims to reduce:

  • The effects of structural inequities (e.g., poverty, sexism, racism) on people’s access to and receipt of health care and access to the social determinants of health
  • The impacts of multiple, intersecting forms of racism, discrimination and stigma
  • The frequent mismatches between usual approaches to care and the needs of people most affected by health and social inequities