EAST LANSING – Working to bolster its commitment to advancing equity across all aspects of the health care system, the Michigan State Medical Society is set to begin on Partnering to Advance Health Equity—a new project designed to identify strategies and opportunities to better position and support physician leadership in their ongoing efforts to reduce—and ultimately eliminate—the racial and ethnic health disparities that persist throughout Michigan communities.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has served as a stark reminder that health inequities absolutely persist within our health care system, with people of color bearing a disproportionate burden of cases and deaths throughout the pandemic,” said Theodore Jones, MD, Chair of MSMS’s Task Force to Advance Health Equity. “Working to eliminate the inherent structural and systemic racism baked into our health care system that lead to these kinds of disparate health outcomes is a huge priority for MSMS. This grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation will go a long way towards getting us there.”

For MSMS and the Partnering to Advance Health Equity project, that effort starts with working to better understand the types of support physicians need to lead change in their respective communities at the system level and via care delivery. Through the project, MSMS will employ a variety of strategies to determine, prioritize and facilitate the best course of action to advance health equity including:

  • Surveying Michigan’s physicians.
  • Learning about replicable initiatives from other professional organizations.
  • Working with the American Medical Association to implement evidence-based, health disparity-conscious best practices in Michigan.
  • Convening stakeholders’ meetings that will provide opportunities to share lived and living experiences, listen to local concerns and needs, and identify partners interested in mitigating health care gaps, disparities, and inequities.

“Thanks to this grant from WKKF, MSMS and physician leaders across the state are ultimately going to be in a much better position to make sure organized medicine is responsive to community needs, rebuilds trust, and provides leadership in all communities throughout Michigan, providing every patient with the opportunity to achieve optimal health,” said Julie Novak, MSMS CEO. “That’s certainly something worth celebrating and we’re excited to get started.”