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Collaboration is Critical to Improving Health Equity in Indiana

July 20, 2022    Posted by: Eli Lilly and Company

header-NEHI+CFRO Health Equity 2022.06.03-HEC-273 2

Lilly Announces $500,000 in Seed Funding and Partnership to Promote Clinical Trial Diversity

In Indianapolis, life expectancies vary by more than 15 years, depending on where you live. The community you’re part of shouldn’t have an impact on how long you live.

This fact was an important driver for a recent Indiana Health Equity Collaboration event, hosted by Lilly and IU Health. More than 150 multi-sector stakeholders across Indiana came together for the first time to ignite innovative strategies to close the gaps in health and health care disparities. The overall message for the day: Collaboration is key to creating change for the diverse communities impacted by long-standing inequities.

Frank Cunningham, Lilly’s senior vice president of global value and access, kicked off the event with a stark recent reminder of why this work and approach is so important.

“We’ve seen things during the pandemic that I hope all of us don’t unsee. We saw how much harder COVID hit in communities that suffered long-standing inequities,” he told the crowd. But he also went on to point out something else that we’ve witnessed during this time: Collaboration.

Cunningham reminded the audience that in order to test, treat and prevent COVID, we partnered across industries. To support those in need, organizations big and small, private and public, came together to ensure critical supplies reached vulnerable populations and saved lives.

“Now, let’s apply those lessons that we learned to the health challenge of today, and that’s health inequities. This is the challenge of our time,” he explained. “Lilly on its own, could probably make a little progress…Your organizations on their own, could probably make some progress. But, if we’re really going to move the needle…it’s going to take all of us. We have to out-collaborate the inequities that we face in our community.”

Brownsyne Tucker Edmonds, Indiana University Health's vice president and chief health equity officer, affirmed that "improving inequitable health care cannot be done without looking upstream and addressing the social and structural impediments to health that underserved and minoritized communities are experiencing."

She emphasized, "Healthcare systems must collaborate with all sector leaders, and, most importantly, patients, families, and communities to co-design meaningful solutions for sustained change to truly advance health equity."

In the spirit of collaboration, and in an effort to impact change directly related to our work, at the event Lilly announced $500,000 in seed funding for a community-focused research organization (CFRO) to address barriers in clinical research trials among underrepresented groups. The initiative is a continued partnership with the Network for Excellence in Health Innovation (NEHI). Together, along with participating stakeholder organizations, the CFRO will help promote diversity in clinical trials in Indianapolis.

Videos of Indiana Health Equity Collaboration event speakers—including the keynote address, panel discussion, and other presentations—can be found here: