Chair Files

Addressing Social Needs to Keep All Patients Healthy

To address disparities in health care outcomes, Main Line Health is proactively addressing socioeconomic barriers. Led by the chief academic officer, interdisciplinary teams at Main Line Health—a comprehensive health system located in the western suburbs of Philadelphia—have conducted about 25 evidence-based assessments to identify disparities in patient treatment according to insurance status, gender, and racial and ethnic backgrounds. For example, a gastroenterology team assessed whether patients 50 years and older were referred for surveillance colonoscopy as recommended. Though disparities in care treatment were not found, disparities in outcomes—largely due to socioeconomic circumstances, such as lack of transportation—were identified. In response, in 2012 Main Line Health launched the Healthcare Disparities Colloquium, for systemwide community collaboration to help solve these complex problems and track improvements over time. Main Line Health also partnered with the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine to establish the Medical Student Advocate program. Second-year PCOM students work with patients at high risk for readmission, delayed care and frequent ED visits. The program not only addresses social barriers to improve health outcomes but also contributes to the development of future health care professionals who are more cognizant of the key social determinants of health.
For more information, contact Jack Lynch, president and CEO, at or Barry Mann, M.D., chief academic officer, at
A case study about Main Line Health is included in “Diversity in Health Care: Examples from the Field.” Main Line Health is among the organizations that have taken the #123forEquity Pledge to Act to eliminate health care disparities. Visit the Equity of Care website for more information about the pledge.


Additional Resources

Webinars December 13th, 2017

Equity of Care Webinar SeriesPart 2: Aligning Diversity and Inclusion, Community Engagement, Busi......

Webinars November 20th, 2017

Equity of Care Webinar SeriesPart 1: Aligning Diversity and Inclusion, Community Engagement, Busi......

Webinars November 17th, 2017

Transportation and the Role of Hospitals This AHA webinar on “Transportation and the Role of Hos......