Health For All

Q&A with Dr. Byron Scott: Addressing Healthcare Access and Equity

04 March 2024
Q&A with Dr. Byron Scott: Addressing Healthcare Access and Equity


Providence Health Plan (PHP) caregivers joined Member of the Board, Byron Scott, MD, MBA and Timshel Tarbet, PHP Chief Healthcare Experience & Equity Officer, for a lunch and learn to answer questions, share his story, and offer insights on health equity and access to care.


Here are five of the questions asked by caregivers:


1. What do you see as the role of the PHP board in guiding the organization and what are your goals specifically for why you joined the board?


Answer: The PHP board plays a crucial role in guiding the organization, primarily by partnering with the CEO and the management team to support their efforts in achieving the organization's mission. One reason I was excited to join the board was because of my personal alignment with the mission of PHP, particularly in providing access to healthcare for all individuals.


2. From your experience, what is the role of technology to bridge gaps in healthcare access and improve health outcomes for marginalized groups?


Answer: Technology can be a powerful tool in improving healthcare access and outcomes for marginalized groups. However, it's essential to prioritize fixing existing workflow and processes before integrating new technology. By leveraging technology effectively, organizations can gather and utilize data to tailor healthcare solutions to diverse communities, although it's crucial to be mindful of the associated costs and focus on meaningful implementation.


3. As you know, globally, the cost of pharmaceuticals directly impacts access to good health outcomes for at-risk communities. What is the best way that we can incentivize companies to reduce or eliminate the cost of essential medical treatments to at-risk communities and how can we best demonstrate that there is more profit in the life saved than the margins gained per sale?


Answer: The issue of pharmaceutical costs is complex, but initiatives like leveraging donations from pharmaceutical companies for distribution to underserved markets can make a significant impact. Organizations like Direct Relief facilitate this process by ensuring medications reach communities where they are needed most. However, addressing pharmaceutical costs requires a multifaceted approach, including advocating for policy changes and promoting the value of investing in healthcare access for all.


4. Have you had any experiences regarding health inequity, and do you have any suggestions for caregivers on how to affect change?


Answer: Throughout my career as an emergency physician, I've encountered instances of health inequity, where advocacy was necessary to ensure patients received appropriate care. Caregivers can effect change by prioritizing patient advocacy, focusing on community-specific needs, and advocating for systemic changes to address healthcare disparities.


5. How do we keep up the level of engagement and excitement when implementing smaller incremental changes towards addressing healthcare access and equity?


Answer: Documenting and sharing successes are vital in maintaining engagement and excitement during the implementation of incremental changes. By highlighting the positive impact of these changes through storytelling and sharing successes with stakeholders and the community, organizations can sustain momentum and inspire continued commitment to the cause.

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