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Follow Up on Promoting Equity in Healthcare Webinar: The Power of the Peer Network and Support

Note: This is a follow up article for the recent webinar on Promoting Equity in Healthcare: Evaluating the Impact of the Disparities Leadership Program, featuring Joseph R. Betancourt, MD, MPH and Roderick K. King, MD, MPH of Massachusetts General Hospital

 

When the Disparities Solutions Center at Massachusetts General Hospital launched the Disparities Leadership Program (DLP) in 2007, our goal was to provide health care leaders across the country with the tools and skills needed to identify and address disparities, as well as the leadership skills required to transform their organizations. Building a program that provided technical assistance seemed like a natural fit as well, given the demand for this prior to the creation of the DLP. One thing we didn't fully appreciate when the program was conceived was the benefit of building and connecting a community of leaders who were all out in the "real world" committed to the same set of actions – addressing disparities and achieving health equity within their organization.

 

With 211 individuals from 98 organizations who have participated in the DLP, our program has grown to include a large network for peer support. Many of the DLP participants operate in a silo within their own organization trying to address disparities. During the kick-off meeting in Boston, participants get together in a room with 30-40 peers who are all facing the similar challenges and barriers. This is the beginning of a truly powerful and validating experience. Although DLP participants and alumni have shared this with us over the years, it was important to explore this in the formal DLP evaluation conducted by the LLC by asking “What is the value of the DLP network?” Findings revealed that DLP alumni valued the support received from the DSC faculty and staff; the credibility that was created by being part of this network, and the shared support and learning from peers and alumni. As one DLP participant said, “Peer support is extremely motivating when you are the lone voice in a meeting or an organization. It really helps to return to your ‘touchstones’ for advice, encouragement and validation.”

 

For our Center, there has been incredible value in having a living laboratory of organizations and leaders who are conducting action-oriented activities to address disparities. It has also allowed us to stay aware of what is going on in this area across the country. Finally, there is nothing more powerful than getting together with a group of people who are passionate about their work, and share your mission, dedication and commitment. While the DLP is only formally one year in duration, it really is the beginning of a long journey that participants go on together. Our team, therefore, doesn’t like to say goodbye when the program ends. Instead, we tell DLP participants, “you are now a DLP alum and welcome to the DLP family”. Through this family we hope to create a movement of sharing...a movement that prevents reinventing the wheel...and a movement that expedites our goal of improving quality and achieving equity everywhere.

 

For more information on the Disparities Leadership Program Evaluation, please visit: 

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