By Andrea Bodkin, Health Nexus
Health Nexus has been working in the area of health equity since we were established more than 30 years ago. That’s why we enthusiastically came on board as a Champion Organization to support the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care’s Health Equity Impact Assessment tool. Over the last four years, we’ve supported a number of groups and organizations in their HEIA efforts as well as conducted HEIAs ourselves. Recently, I took some of my key learnings from those experiences and created two new tip sheets: Getting Started with HEIA and Planning for a Successful HEIA. The tip sheets provide an introduction to how HEIA can be used and what you should consider when planning to conduct one. I also presented a 30 minute webinar on this topic for the HEIA Community of Interest (View the recording).
What is HEIA?
HEIA is an easy-to-use tool that can help your organization work towards achieving health equity. The tool was developed by the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care as a way for organizations to address health inequities by considering the needs of specific populations. Conducting an HEIA on a program, policy, service or initiative can help organizations identify potential unintended impacts and identify strategies to maximize the positive and minimize the negative impacts.
Why conduct an HEIA?
At the heart of HEIA, as my colleague Sheela Subramanian, formerly of CMHA, says “HEIA will help you to identify if there are populations whose needs are not being met by your program, why that is, and what you can do about it”. Ingrid Tyler from Public Health Ontario has identified these benefits:
- Raise awareness/build capacity amongst your team, your agency, policy makers or other stakeholder groups
- Provide information to guide the planning/development of your program, to provide evaluation data/continuous quality improvement
- Inform resource allocation/budgeting
- Meet an organizational mandate/funding requirements
The bottom line is that if your program could have a negative impact on some populations or communities, you should conduct an HEIA.
One of the things that I love about HEIA is that it is a relatively simple 5 step process. This means that you have a lot of flexibility in terms of different ways to conduct HEIAs. I’ve found that HEIAs can be used- either the results, or through the process itself- to:
Support for your HEIA
CAMH is supporting an HEIA Community of Interest. The online portal can be found at http://eenet.ca/the-health-equity-impact-assessment-community-of-interest/
Visit the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care website’s HEIA section to download a copy of the HEIA tool. http://www.health.gov.on.ca/en/pro/programs/heia/
Visit the HEIA page of Health Nexus’ website for information on our HEIA resources, including an introductory video and tip sheets. http://en.healthnexus.ca/topics-tools/health-equity-topics/heia
No Barriers Health Equity for All: Toolkit and Practical Guide for Health and Community Service Providers was developed by the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit. Appendix A of the toolkit is a guide to conducting HEIAs, adapted from the Ministry’s workbook. https://www.wechu.org/reports-and-statistics-health-equity-population-and-determinants-health/2015-health-equity-toolkit
The Wellesley Institute has several resources for HEIA listed on their website at http://www.wellesleyinstitute.com/topics/health-equity/heath-equity-impact-assessment/.