Sr. Director of Data Science Discusses the Importance of Health Equity

Author : Strive Health
Tammy Cheung, Sr. Director of Data Science at Strive Health

Tammy Cheung, Strive’s Sr. Director of Data Science, has spent the majority of her career in the healthcare industry. She believes one of the industry’s greatest opportunities is to improve outcomes among people who systematically have greater obstacles to achieve their highest level of health. 

In this Q&A, she shares how Strive’s health equity pledge prioritizes this opportunity and supports people by accounting for social, economic and environmental factors. 

Q: Why is diversity, equity and inclusion an important topic for you? 

A: Every successful project, product or team I’ve been a part of, I’ve attributed a lot of the success to diversity of thought. The most organic way to get diverse opinions is to be around people with different backgrounds and perspectives. It challenges the way we think, prevents bias and fosters innovation leading to better problem solving and solutioning. 

Q: Did you know about healthcare disparities prior to joining Strive? If so, can you share specifics?  

A: Yes, I’ve spent most of my professional career in the healthcare industry. As an employee of both big and small organizations, I’ve seen an increase in awareness of health disparities, but unfortunately I have not seen enough action-backed initiatives to truly close inequities. There remains a lot of opportunities to improve outcomes among people who systematically have greater obstacles to achieve their highest level of health. 

Q: How do you believe health equity initiatives eliminate barriers to patient care and programs? 

A: A significant barrier to health equity is not knowing enough about underserved populations, which limits the ability to make meaningful change. We cannot improve what we do not measure. Initiatives to collect more meaningful data about individuals in underserved communities will allow health organizations to better identify disparities, analyze root causes and implement strategies to promote health literacy and provide opportunities for everyone to be healthier. 

Q: What do you hope the health equity pledge changes in the healthcare system?  

A: I hope that the health equity pledge sends a strong message that addressing disparities is and should be a top priority. Healthcare organizations should implement it as one of their guiding principles with targeted outreach initiatives to address at-risk populations. I would love to see a healthcare system where organizations big and small work together using their collective resources to provide affordable care and support people on their path to healthy well-being, accounting for any social, economic and environmental factors. 

Q: Strive identifies kidney disease patients early on, prior to late-stage presentation. How does this value-based care principle contribute to addressing health equity? 

A: Strive’s value-based care model shifts the focus from volume of services provided to patient outcomes. By emphasizing outcomes such as improved health, reduced hospital admissions and better management of chronic conditions, this ensures that all patients receive high-quality care that meets their individual needs. We understand the importance of addressing social determinants of health and the challenges faced, such as not having access to healthy foods, having limited English proficiency or living in a geographically isolated area with limited social network. By acknowledging and addressing these patients early on in meaningful interactions with clinicians, Strive aims to reduce disparities and improve health outcomes for all. 

Learn more about Strive’s health equity pledge. 

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