Addressing health disparities in health care service delivery and planning requires a solid understanding of key barriers to equitable access to high quality care and the specific needs of health-disadvantaged populations. And this requires an array of effective and practical planning tools.
HEIA is one part of the repertoire of equity-driven planning tools. It analyzes the potential impact of service, program or policy changes on health disparities and/or health-disadvantaged populations. It can both help to plan new services, policy development or other initiatives or assess existing programmes. It can be used both within the health sector and in numerous other fields that impact the social determinants of health.
It came out of broader health impact assessments (HIA), which have been increasingly used in many jurisdictions in the past 15 years. The more specific focus of HEIA arose as increasing policy attention to social determinants of health and health disparities highlighted the need to incorporate an equity focus into planning. At the same time, the need for shorter and more focused processes – sometimes called Rapid HIA — had been recognized.
There has also been growing recognition that mental health and well-being has to be better addressed in impact assessments. Innovative tools and resources for Mental Well-being Impact Assessment have been developed.
This page provides links to leading jurisdictions that have developed and implemented HEIA and to expert reports and other resources on HIA in general that are relevant to equity-based planning and policy development.