Why is health equity important? Why is it particularly important in lung cancer?
For decades, we’ve observed disparities in access to cancer care and treatment outcomes among racial, ethnic and underserved populations. Health equity is about giving everyone, regardless of who they are, where they live, how much money they have or how much education they have, an equal opportunity for the best possible outcomes.
Tell me about your background and how this has shaped your beliefs.
I am driven by fairness, empathy and collaboration in the work that I have done throughout my career.
Through my work in Industry in a global patient engagement role and my work at the NMQF, I’ve come to believe that patients, and those who care for them, are experts in their own disease. I also believe that long-held assumptions and prejudices can be erased. When they are eradicated, impactful and sustainable health equity goals are possible. Well-informed healthcare leaders are better equipped to listen to communities in order to support their interests.
I have worked with multiple stakeholders (healthcare providers, patient organizations, community leaders, health Insurance plan leaders, industry, patients, caregivers) in diverse communities to address lung cancer screening rates for high risk populations. Collaboration across all of these sectors is needed to address the many factors that influence health, and to change the types of policies, practices and systems that have kept inequity in place. I am, in particular, dedicated to shining a light on cancer center practices; and the need for inclusion of diverse populations in cancer research in communities across the US.1,2
What are your duties in your new role?
My role is to represent LUNGevity Foundation as the trusted patient organization partner with diverse and medically underserved lung cancer patients including people at risk of lung cancer. Together, we can drive impactful, national and community-based solutions with stakeholders, innovators and policy makers to ensure greater access to health care throughout the care continuum.
I will also work to expand the Foundation’s programs and services to better serve minority populations and underserved populations to ensure that all socially and economically underserved populations at risk of lung cancer benefit from optimal care.
What is your first goal as Chief Diversity and Health Equity Officer?
To engage with, listen to and hear high-risk patient communities and those who care for them so that the choices that we make and the solutions that we offer as a Foundation are informed with them, not just for them. Those that are most affected by disparities must be engaged in the identification, design, implementation, and evaluation of promising solutions. For them, by them, and with them.
What impact do you hope to have on lung cancer?
I believe that my trusted engagement and inclusion of diverse populations and key stakeholders throughout healthcare will result in a better understanding of lung cancer and all its variants overall and therefore help everyone.
What gives you hope in lung cancer?
Leaders in healthcare: providers, navigators, community leaders, researchers, educators and policymakers feel empathy for people. People want better health outcomes for themselves and their communities; at LUNGevity, we are dedicated to enabling all of them. I believe that building collaboration among stakeholders saves lives. When stakeholders get together to build on a diverse and inclusive culture of understanding and acceptance, only then will we have impact and save lives. This gives me great hope.
Are you interested in learning more about Jeanne’s work or would you like to talk more about health equity and diversity in lung cancer? You can reach Jeanne at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. Regnante JM, Richie NA, Fashoyin-Aje L, Vichnin M, Ford ME, Roy UB, Turner K, Hall LL, González ET, Esnaola NF, Clark LT, Adams HC III, Alese OB, Gogineni K, McNeil LH, Petereit DG, Sargeant I, Dang JH, Obasaju C, Highsmith Q, Craddock Lee SJ, Hoover SC, Williams EL, Chen MS Jr.: US Cancer Centers of Excellence strategies for increased inclusion of racial and ethnic minorities in clinical trials. J Oncol Prac DOI 10.1200/JOP.18.00638 (JOP Editors Pick 2019) http://ascopubs.org/doi/full/10.1200/JOP.18.00638
2. Regnante J, Richie N, Fashoyin-Aje L, Hall LL, Highsmith Q, Louis J, Turner K, Hoover S, Lee S, González E, Williams E, Adams H III, Obasaju C, Sargeant I, Spinner J, Reddick C, Gandee M, Geday M, Dang JT, Watson R, Chen M Jr., Operational strategies in US cancer centers of excellence that support the successful accrual of racial and ethnic minorities in clinical trials, Contemporary Clinical Trials Communications (2020) https://doi.org/10.1016/j.conctc.2020.100532
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Jeanne M. Regnante has worked in healthcare advocacy and patient engagement for more than 35 years. Prior to joining LUNGevity, Jeanne served as the Senior Vice President of Community Engagement for the National Minority Quality Forum (NMQF) and Chair of the Diverse Cancer Community Working Group (CWG), which has 25 active public and private partners who work together to optimize cancer care, treatment, and inclusion to clinical trials for racial and ethnic minorities and medically underserved populations.