> Equity Health
Hugh Lytle: Founder & CEO
Hugh Lytle: Founder & CEO
Equality Health—The Healthcare Trailblazers
Hugh Lytle is a self-described healthcare rebel with more than 25 years of executive healthcare leadership experience. His passion for advocating for the people left behind in the current U.S. one-size-fits-all healthcare system and his keen insight into today’s most pressing healthcare challenges are what drove him to develop groundbreaking solutions as the founder and CEO of Equality Health.
Previously, Hugh founded two nationally recognized healthcare companies—Axia Health Management, the nation’s leading population health management company, and Univita, a home-based care management business.
While working at Univita Health, Hugh provided healthcare services for his predominantly Cuban population base. He saw how effective and efficient healthcare delivery could be when the Cuban culture pervaded every aspect of care—from doctors to pharmacists to front-desk staff at doctors’ offices—and the enormous impact this had on cost and outcomes.
It was this light-bulb moment in 2013 that sent Hugh looking for someone to help Univita Health with the delivery of culturally competent care. But it didn’t exist. Instead, Hugh set out to build it himself.
With a team of fellow trailblazers comprised of physicians and experienced executives in healthcare management, Hugh spent the next few years researching the impact of health disparities among the Latino population and the continual struggle to achieve health equity within a fragmented healthcare ecosystem and untapped community resources. That research led to the creation of Equality Health.
Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.- Vincent Van Gogh
Combating Health Disparities Among Underserved Populations
In the United States, racial and ethnic minority individuals and communities suffer disproportionately from chronic conditions such as mental illness, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. Such chronic conditions often lead to a shortened life expectancy and prevalence of comorbid conditions that impact quality of life. In Maricopa County, low-income, Latino residents of south Phoenix have a life expectancy of 71 years—14 years less than the 85 years of life expectancy enjoyed by residents of affluent north Scottsdale.
Hugh and the leadership team at Equality Health began the pursuit of better healthcare for all by exploring community-based data from Maricopa County’s most underserved areas. These disparities drove Equality Health to develop its proprietary, evidence-based Cultural Care Model that is scalable, adaptable, and replicable in any community.
Looking at factors like population trends, food insecurities, transportation, education, employment and access to care allowed Equality Health to target key hotspots for community interventions, provider network design and comprehensive care centers that house primary care, behavioral health and social support services—all specifically tailored to better serve the community.
“When it comes to accessing healthcare, your zip code can say more about you than your genetic code,” Hugh says.
Equality Health’s holistic, technology-enabled approach removes cultural barriers, increases health literacy, integrates physical and behavioral health within primary care, and creates an alignment with community resources to close the gaps and solve for social determinants of health. The solution benefits payers, providers, and members alike.
The Equality Health Network
A key component of Equality Health’s approach is the deployment of its Cultural Care Model to a network of physical, behavioral, and community-based providers via in-person and online training.
Along with education, industry-leading technology and hands-on practice transformation support, providers, and their ancillary staff learn about culturally effective practices that influence prescription adherence, reduce unnecessary healthcare costs and improve chronic disease self-management.
Today, more than 2,000 providers in Arizona have joined the Equality Health Network to complete provider training and dedicate themselves to culturally specific, holistic care that improves the health of members.
Excellent medical care alone will not bring about change. Partnerships formed with community resource agencies like St. Mary’s Food Bank, United Food Bank, and Fresh Start Women’s Foundation are a critical aspect of Equality Health’s holistic approach to care.
More than simple referrals, Equality Health and its partners utilize a proprietary collaboration technology platform and sociocultural risk assessment to track referrals, services and outcomes. Social determinant data such as access to transportation and healthy foods is incorporated into the patient’s medical record, allowing for gaps in care to be cataloged and shared in real time, making it easily accessible to care teams to coordinate care.
“It’s a holistic approach to improving the health of the individuals we serve,” Hugh says. “And it’s how we’re delivering ‘The New Culture of Care.’”
“We were attracted to Phoenix for a number of reasons—it has a vibrant and enterprising Latino community; an innovative entrepreneurial ethos; a strong knowledge enterprise through its excellent university system; and it offers it all in a large and dynamic metropolitan area.” —Hugh Lytle, Founder & CEO
Advice & Best Practices
“The best advice I can give to innovators is to dream big. Look for opportunities where trends converge versus chasing a single trend. Innovate to bring systemic change. Don’t fall in love with your ideas without proper vetting from experts, and be ready to iterate and adjust.” —Hugh Lytle, Founder & CEO