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Our Race to Health Equity

How Johnson & Johnson Continues Its Journey to Increase Racial Health Equity

As Our Race to Health Equity (ORTHE) reaches its second anniversary, Johnson & Johnson continues to work to change the culture of healthcare to create a more equitable future for all humanity. Though the task at hand is tremendous, the progress thus far is already significant—just ask Delyn Owen-Robinson.
Delyn Owen-Robinson
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A PharmD Candidate at Florida A&M University, Delyn Owen-Robinson comes from a community where very few pharmacists look like her.

“Ever since my grandmother passed away from a medication error,” says Owen-Robinson, “it’s been my dream to become a pharmacist so I can return to my community and serve patients like my grandmother, hopefully helping prevent this from happening to them.”

Research has shown that patient experiences and outcomes are improved when patients are cared for by people who look like them. With that in mind, Johnson & Johnson created the Johnson & Johnson Pharmacy Student Scholarship, as part of Our Race to Health Equity (ORTHE) initiative. This two-year scholarship program awards rising underrepresented minority second- or third-year pharmacy students, enrolled in their final two years at one of the five U.S.-accredited historically Black college or university schools of pharmacy. Recipients must also have demonstrated leadership skills and a commitment to serving medically under-resourced communities.

Programs like this—designed to build healthier communities by increasing the pipeline of pharmacists who come from historically marginalized backgrounds in medicine and healthcare—play a key role in promoting health equity.

Owen-Robinson, a recipient of the scholarship, has personally witnessed the value and potential of ORTHE and its goal to close the racial health gap by investing in programs that diversity our health workforce.

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Exposure to diverse providers who understand the different struggles patients, like my grandmother, experience will lead us closer to the goals of health equity.

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“Receiving the scholarship has allowed me to finish my last two years of pharmacy school, but more important, it has reminded me that I am on a path of success and my dreams are achievable,” says Owen-Robinson. “It makes me feel that health equity is truly possible. When someone hears my story, I hope they’re inspired to chase their dreams, too.”

Through ORTHE, Charting a Course Toward a More Equitable Healthcare Ecosystem

As Owen-Robinson’s story illustrates, historically marginalized communities in the United States have long faced serious inequities in healthcare. Disproportionately impacted by a multitude of socioeconomic and public health challenges, these diverse communities often have higher incidences of, and death rates from, conditions such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and COVID-19. People of color also often have lower rates of health insurance, which means they may not have access to healthcare—and the care they do get often isn’t equal to what their white counterparts receive.

On Nov. 17, 2020, Johnson & Johnson launched Our Race to Health Equity (ORTHE) with the bold ambition that, together, we can create a world where the color of your skin is not a determinant of your access to care, quality of care or health outcomes. The company committed $100 million over five years to invest and promote racial health equity solutions, including the Johnson & Johnson Pharmacy Student Scholarship.

Increasing Racial Health Equity Through Three Focus Areas

In alignment with Our Credo, commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) and legacy of taking on the toughest health challenges, Johnson & Johnson is helping to rebuild healthcare from a diverse perspective by supporting solutions that increase health equity. Through ORTHE, we are changing the culture of healthcare by focusing on three areas:

1. Building a Diverse Healthcare Workforce: In addition to doubling down on our long-standing commitment to DEI and advancing our culture of inclusion by building inclusive leadership competencies, educating on cultural differences and providing our teams with tools and resources, we are partnering with universities, hospitals and healthcare organizations to establish and foster a diverse healthcare workforce internally and externally.

2. Investing in and Supporting Culturally Competent Community Care Models: We have engaged in community and social impact initiatives and leveraged our long-standing partnerships to build solutions that improve health outcomes. These initiatives include investing in community-based healthcare solutions that build trust and improve the quality and utilization of healthcare. In addition, we are developing and improving models of care to enhance cultural competency and respect in healthcare services.

3. Creating Enduring Partnerships and Alliances: We recognize that no one entity can solve this problem alone, so we are leading by example, using our talent for good, sharing best practices and lessons learned, and co-creating solutions with our powerful partnership network to address racial and social health determinants. We are listening, learning and upholding the promise of Our Credo to serve all communities equally, and encouraging everyone to Join the Race.

As one of the largest healthcare companies in the world, Johnson & Johnson remains committed to changing the culture of healthcare, to meet the needs of all communities. Although our program is called a “race” to health equity, it is a journey. While we know the path toward a more just, equitable and inclusive healthcare ecosystem is an arduous one, we’ve already made meaningful progress through ORTHE. We look forward to continuing collaborations with industry leaders, academics, public health officials and policy makers—as well as inspiring individuals like Delyn Owen-Robinson—as we endeavor to change the trajectory of healthcare in the years ahead.

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