Office of Health Equity
The Office of Health Equity (OHE) seeks to eliminate health disparities and achieve health equity for all Veterans. OHE supports the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) vision to provide appropriate individualized health care to each Veteran in a way that removes disparate health outcomes and assures health equity.
Achieving health equity requires valuing everyone equally with focused and ongoing societal efforts to address avoidable inequalities, historical and contemporary injustices and the elimination of health and health care inequities. Health disparities adversely affect groups of people who have systematically experienced greater obstacles to health and/or a clean environment based on several socioeconomic factors including gender, race, age, religion and geographic location.
In 2011, the VHA chartered a health care equality workgroup. The purpose of the workgroup was to determine how VA could provide a more equitable health care delivery system. The workgroup's recommendations, including efforts by the VA Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans, supported a dedicated national-level office to champion equitable health care for all Veterans. As a result, OHE was established in 2012.
Since its inception, OHE has helped strengthen and broaden the ability of VA leadership to address health inequalities and reduce health disparities through operations, policy oversight and research. This leadership support is helping the department make informed decisions on how VHA facilities, networks, and other offices should be optimally staffed to provide Veterans with safe, efficient, effective and compassionate care in a timely manner.
The office also produces a variety of studies, products and tools to improve the availability, coordination and application of data and diffusion of research and evaluation outcomes toward improved health equity. OHE is also increasing awareness of the significance of health inequalities and disparities and the actions necessary within VHA to improve health care and health outcomes for disadvantaged populations. Lastly, by improving cultural and linguistic competency and the diversity of the VHA workforce, OHE is helping the VA health system be better equipped to meet the varied health and well-being needs of Veterans.
The Office of Health Equity, in partnership with other Department of Veteran Affairs offices and VHA medical centers, has developed innovative tools to ensure reliable, safe and seamless care for Veterans. Below are examples of how Health Equity is elevating the totality of the Veterans experience within the VHA Healthcare system.