On your mobile clinic’s dashboard: Equity
When you sign up for Mobile Health Map, you can create your own dashboards – visual displays of your data. The dashboards provide you actionable insights and help tell your mobile clinic’s unique story of impact and quality.
Read this article by William Zhuo-Ming Li, MD Candidate at Harvard Medical School to learn how mobile clinics can ensure they are providing quality services by making their program more equitable.
Health inequities are differences in health that are unnecessary, avoidable, and unjust. A person’s health and quality of life is significantly affected by their education level, income, living and working conditions, access to food and shelter, gender and sexual orientation, and experiences of racism or discrimination. These are together known as social determinants of health, which studies show affect up to 50 percent of all health outcomes. For example, someone with diabetes or obesity who lacks access to nutritious foods may not be able to follow their doctor’s dietary recommendations. Similarly, low-income neighborhoods and communities of color are at more risk of being exposed to toxins in their homes or pollutants from nearby factories.
Mobile health clinics can advance health equity by reducing transportation and geographic barriers to healthcare. They are often the only available option for patients in areas with limited medical clinics, providers, and resources. They can also reach specific vulnerable populations, such as migrants, uninsured and unhoused people, and pregnant women and children. In addition, mobile clinics usually employ community health workers and collaborate with local agencies and churches. These unique features help to promote trust with the local community and offer culturally sensitive, patient-centered services.
Here are five questions you can ask to judge if your program supports health equity:
- Is your location convenient for people with the most health needs? Some groups, such as racial minorities, migrants, LGBTQ+ people, and rural communities have worse health outcomes and more barriers to health services. This reflects a greater need for mobile clinics to deliver care to the doorsteps of these communities.
- Are your services affordable to people who are uninsured or low income? Lack of insurance and high healthcare costs are common reasons why patients do not receive needed screenings and treatments. Mobile clinics can bridge this gap by providing services at low or no cost with minimal fees and paperwork.
- Are your resources easy to understand for people with literacy difficulties? Complex health information can create confusion and misunderstanding for many patients. Strategies to improve patient understanding include using plain words, simple visual aids and demonstrations, and the teach back method.
- Does your staff speak the two most common languages of their patients? It is easier for staff to provide patient-centered care when they speak the language of their patients. Patients are better able to express their health needs and follow recommendations when communicating through their native language.
- Does your staff reflect the diversity of their patients? Mobile clinics provide a safe space that patients may trust more than traditional medical settings. Hiring culturally sensitive health workers with backgrounds and experiences that represent the community helps to promote trust with patients.
We urge you to take the time to evaluate the quality of your program. Not only does it help you plan for ongoing improvement, it is a great way to show your patients, donors, and other supporters that you are delivering the best care possible.
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