Each month, we spotlight one of the many great leaders of our 20 member health systems that make up Truveta, helping us to advance our vision of saving lives with data. Learn about their perspectives on the future of medicine, the changing role of technology in healthcare, and the critical importance of real-time, de-identified data to accelerate research, advance health equity, and save lives.

This month, we feature Dr. Carladenise Edwards, executive vice president and chief strategy officer for Henry Ford Health System. An accomplished healthcare executive with nearly three decades of healthcare, nonprofit and government experience, Dr. Edwards oversees Henry Ford Health System’s strategic planning efforts and partnership ventures.

Dr. Edwards is also a passionate advocate for health equity, so we sat down with her to understand the health equity challenges facing health systems, how the pandemic has put a spotlight on those challenges, and the opportunities for data to inform solutions.

Here’s what we learned …

TRUVETA: You are a passionate advocate for health equity. What are some of the biggest challenges facing healthcare systems working tirelessly to achieve health equity?

DR. EDWARDS: Locally and at the point of care, one of the challenges is access to actionable data that facilitates the development of patient-centered solutions to the key drivers of inequity in healthcare outcomes, such as food and housing instability, access to reliable transportation, financial distress, employment discrimination and the psychosocial impact of racism on members of the black and brown community. Without the ability to know what your patients and the most vulnerable in your community need, it is hard to design targeted solutions that meet the specific and unique needs of the individual or the community as a whole.

At a national or more global level, healthcare systems are struggling with managing the high demands the U.S. economy puts on our systems. Hospitals and health systems are expected to provide the highest quality care possible at the lowest cost possible in ways that are uber easy to access for the most diverse customer base there is. And we are required to provide that same level of care to everyone, all patients or consumers of healthcare services regardless of 1) their ability to pay; 2) what their unique or individual needs and desires are; and 3) the patient’s satisfaction.

TRUVETA: Great point, what other businesses are expected to do this?

DR. EDWARDS: None to my knowledge, and I feel honored and truly privileged to be a part of the family of health systems who joined Truveta that wake up with this challenge every day, despite it being a very difficult one. Aggregated data – and a lot of it – can help us identify patterns and trends reflective of the needs of populations with similar characteristics, thus enabling solution development on a larger scale with the capacity to deploy standard approaches with proven success to our peers across the country. Each individual hospital and/or health system does not have to try to figure this out on their own.

TRUVETA: The most unique aspect of Truveta is its member health systems of which Henry Ford Health System is one. Currently, 20 health systems have banded together behind a vision of saving lives with data. What have you learned from your peer health systems about ways to address health equity?

DR. EDWARDS: I can’t say I necessarily learned this from my peer institutions yet (it’s still early days), but it is my belief that in order to achieve health equity, we first have to value health. The nation must believe that being healthy is as important as being wealthy. My peers who have dedicated their lives to service across the 20 different health systems absolutely value health. That is why we joined Truveta, but in order to make sure everyone has access to health care when they are sick and access to prevention to keep them well, our teams work a lot of magic so that we can serve everyone equitably, and sometimes we fail. It is really hard to provide the level of individualized care at scale when resources are slim, demand is high, and you do not have the data, especially in a pandemic. Knowledge is key in the design and development process. Thanks to Truveta and its new partnership with LexisNexis Risk Solutions, we are just beginning to build the solutions that will help us move the needle towards more equitable care delivery and our capacity to address the social and economic deterrents to health.

TRUVETA: Where do you think we are making the most progress today? What can the general population do to help?

DR. EDWARDS: We are doing a lot to raise the awareness among the general public and among those who are in positions of power and influence who can effectuate change. People of color, women, minority populations – in essence the survivors of institutional discrimination – have known for centuries that our communities have worse health outcomes, poorer health, and higher mortality rates than communities with economic and social status and privilege. Now that the data and insights are being made more mainstream, more accessible, and actionable, I am hopeful that we can collectively come together to do something about it.

TRUVETA: How has the pandemic changed healthcare?

DR. EDWARDS: There are two things that have profoundly impacted health care in ways that are forcing those of us in the industry to think and behave very differently: one was the death and devastation caused by COVID-19, and two, the national wakening to racism that has arisen from the brutal, public murder of George Floyd, may he rest in the power he has given us to make a change.

To read more about our member health systems or the work Truveta is doing to save lives with data, follow us on LinkedIn.