Stanford School of Medicine plans to expand access to health care for underserved populations

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The Stanford School of Medicine plans to expand clinical research and health care access for historically marginalized and underserved populations, faculty leaders said at Thursday’s Faculty Senate meeting.

While racial minorities make up 40% of the world’s population, 75% of participants in FDA-approved clinical trials identified as white in 2020, according to School of Medicine Dean Lloyd Minor. To address this gap, Minor said Stanford Medicine aims to increase patient access to clinical trials so that Stanford can serve a more diverse set of communities.

“The expansion of clinical trials is the best opportunity for patients to receive cutting-edge care,” Minor said.

According to Minor. Beyond just serving Stanford and Palo Alto residents, the medical school’s growth strategy aims to encompass care for the greater Bay Area community with the addition of 82 outpatient sites through Stanford Health Care and 65 outpatient sites through Stanford Children’s Health, Minor added.

The peninsula’s outpatient centers provide better access to health care for communities in cities like Oakland and San Jose — many of which are underserved, Minor said. He added that clinics like the South Bay Cancer Center and East Bay Oncology, both with Stanford faculty, are expanding the network of clinical trials for rare diseases and cancer to a more geographically diverse population. demographic.

This bay-wide system of care makes Stanford’s high-quality medical care and innovative research more accessible, Minor says, creating greater equity in access to clinical trials in people’s home communities. patients and reducing the need to travel to campus. facilities. Department of Medicine Chairman Bob Harrington echoed the value of increased accessibility.

“The ability to reach our patients where they really live…makes it easier for our patients to see us and potentially participate in research,” Harrington said. “These ambulatory sites are an essential part of our future.”

Stanford’s Health Equity Committee, which aims to identify ways to better serve a diverse set of patients, is implementing a new health equity initiative called Racial Equity to Advance a Community of Health (REACH), according to Minor. With a recent $25 million gift, Stanford will fund more than 700 students from historically underserved communities to pursue health equity projects over the next five years, Minor said.

Stanford Children’s Health President and CEO Paul King said initiatives like the Teen Van program, which provides essential care and support to young people in underserved communities and high schools, also help bridge the gap. health care disparities gap.

For Minor, these initiatives are the start of a larger mission.

“This is just the beginning of the kind of impact we want to have,” Minor said. “The health and health care disparities that have always existed in our society have become starkly evident during COVID-19…we should be making an impact in this important area.”

Within the medical school, Minor said 22.4% of the student body identifies as an underrepresented minority — a percentage Minor expects to increase even further as all financial aid has become evidence-based. needs and full grants are catered for without medical school loans.

During the COVID-19 updates portion of the meeting, Minor said more than one million PCR tests had been provided by Stanford Health Care.

Along with testing milestones, Stanford Medicine has seen the growing importance of telehealth as a way to reach more patients from a wide variety of backgrounds. Stanford telehealth services have grown from 2% of outpatient visits to nearly 70% during the pandemic, according to Stanford Health Care President and CEO David Entwistle.

Virtual services, alongside the aforementioned offsite outpatient clinics, are examples of how Stanford Medicine allocates its resources, according to King.

“There are a lot of things we can do that can be done safely and with very high quality in the outpatient setting, and even through the use of telehealth,” King said.

In light of the recent passing of Katie Meyer, as well as graduate students Jacob Meisel, Rose Wong and Dylan Simmons over the past year, senators took time at the meeting to address the need for community support.

“We are focused on supporting the community during the difficult times of the tragedy of Katie Meyer’s death,” Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne said.

“We are doing everything we can, but this is something that needs everyone’s help,” added radiology professor Garry Gold. “If anyone hears of a student talking in a way that makes them think they might be at risk, the best thing to do is seek help immediately.”

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