Dr. Sachin Jain Challenges Health Systems to Ask: Who's Not in the Room?

February 14, 2021
Mary Caffrey

Mary Caffrey is the Associate Editorial Director of AJMC/Managed Care for MJH Life Sciences. Her editorial responsibilities include Evidence-Based Oncology, Chief Healthcare Executive, and Managed Healthcare Executive.

This week, Dr. Sachin Jain of SCAN Health leads Academy Health's 2021 Datapalooza and National Health Policy Conference. He discussed how health systems that know they have issues with diversity can start to address the problem.

This week, Sachin H. Jain, MD, MBA, will host Academy Health’s 2021 Health Datapalooza and National Health Policy Conference, which this year will pay special attention to the role of data in overcoming the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)—and the inequities that the pandemic has forced the healthcare system to confront.

As one who has viewed the healthcare landscape from inside and outside government—working as a physician, policymaker, teacher, pharmaceutical innovator, and for the last six years in integrated payer-provider networks—Jain is well-positioned to convene change makers for such a discussion.

For five years as CEO of Anthem subsidiary CareMore Health, Jain became known not only for CareMore’s geographic expansion but also for elevating the national discussion on loneliness as a clinical health problem—long before COVID-19 challenged many Americans’ mental health. Jain left last year to become CEO of SCAN Group and SCAN Health Plan, a not-for-profit Medicare Advantage health maintenance organization that serves 200,000 seniors from its base in Long Beach, California. In January, Jain called for “Medicare Advantage for All,” citing studies that show MA plans perform better on several quality measures at lower costs than traditional Medicare.

On the eve of the Academy Health conference, Chief Healthcare Executive™ spoke with Jain about how healthcare organizations should confront problems with equity and diversity. Jain said healthcare organizations must “get the bad news out there,” when it comes to disparities. SCAN, for example, collects data on its own employees; while overall trust scores are high, the process uncovered “trust gaps,” that showed that trust scores among Black employees are lower than those of White employees.

In a conversation about how healthcare organizations can move forward, Jain said changing course on disparities starts with asking “Who’s not in the room?” He discussed an essay that appeared in Annals of Internal Medicine in April 2013, when Jain reported an incident that happened during his medical training after a patient hurled a racist comment his way, and the system was ill-equipped to protect healthcare workers from such vitriol.

Despite the divisions of the past year, Jain is optimistic. “For the first time,” he said, “there is broad acknowledgment of this problem.”