Social Inequities as Enterprise Risks for Health Care Organizations

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How a health care organization responds to demands for corporate social justice may affect its ability to achieve performance goals. Racial, gender, and other inequities function as enterprise risks for health care organizations, with potential to have a negative impact on performance ranging from patient satisfaction to quality care measures. As health care organizations continue to manage the financial strain and logistical challenges of the pandemic, they also are pursuing strategic objectives designed to improve the quality of care, increase access for underserved communities, and enhance the experience of care for patients and health care professionals. Health care organizations can use enterprise risk management (ERM) principles to make informed decisions related to corporate social justice and improve performance.

The term “corporate social justice” refers to a business’ efforts to demonstrably improve the “measurable, lived experiences of groups harmed and disadvantaged by society.”1 In 2020, health system leaders and the American Medical Association issued statements calling racism a public health problem.2 The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted racial disparities of care3 and the relevance of social determinants of health.4 Physicians and health care organizations should expect demands for remediation of systemic racism and other root causes of disparities of care to gain momentum and visibility. 5 Failure to effectively address these social justice concerns could jeopardize an organization’s ability to achieve its objectives by causing diversion of leadership focus or distraction among the workforce. Declines in employee job performance (and quality of care) are a risk if employees believe that their health care employer fails to mitigate racial disparities of care as a provider or fails to combat systemic racism and gender bias in the organization as an employer…

Originally published by AHLA Health Law Weekly - March 12, 2021.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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