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Background and Framework

​The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines health equity as: when all people have “the opportunity to attain their full health potential and no one is disadvantaged from achieving this potential because of their social position or other socially determined circumstance.”

The Pursuing Equity initiative seeks to activate health care systems, using a framework developed by IHI and our partners, to remediate health care differences that are systematic, avoidable, and unjust.

Health care has a critical role in advancing health and equity. While health care organizations alone do not have the power to improve all of the multiple determinants of health for all of society, they do have the power to address disparities directly at the point of care, and to impact many of the determinants that create these disparities.

Health care organizations can make an impact by providing equitable, high-quality, and high-value care, and also through their role as employers and partners in  communities.

The theory of change for Pursuing Equity is set forth in the IHI White Paper, Achieving Health Equity: A Guide for Health Care Organizations. The white paper offers a consolidated framework for how health systems can advance health equity in five key areas:

  • Make Health Equity a Strategic Priority

  • Build Infrastructure to Support Health Equity

  • Address the Multiple Determinants of Health

  • Eliminate Racism and Other Forms of Oppression

  • Partner with the Community