Healthcare Distributors Are Improving Health Equity and Supporting Patients in Need

October 18, 2021

On October 7, we launched a three-part series to showcase how the distribution industry is making a difference in local communities across the country. In part one, we explored how HDA’s distributor members are leaving their imprint upon communities through corporate, foundation and employee support.

This week, we are looking at how healthcare distributors are improving health equity and supporting patients in need.


Addressing Health Disparities

HDA members are committed to improving health equity and protecting people experiencing material poverty or illness, especially as COVID-19 has exacerbated healthcare access challenges. The industry is working with local partners to reduce health disparities and allow communities to thrive. For example:
  • The AmerisourceBergen Foundation, the not-for-profit charitable giving arm of AmerisourceBergen, works to improve the health and well-being of its patient populations — both human and animal — by investing in communities and partnering with organizations to expand access to quality healthcare, promote health equity, and provide resources to ensure prescription drug safety.
    • In FY20, the AmerisourceBergen Foundation donated nearly $10 million to over 100 nonprofit partners. The AmerisourceBergen Foundation donated over $1 million to support communities impacted by COVID-19, and is focused on combating the health, economic, and psychosocial challenges resulting from the pandemic. In FY21, an additional $700,000 was awarded to Boys & Girls Clubs of America to help increase confidence in the safety and efficacy of vaccines in underserved communities.
  • Cardinal Health expanded its food pharmacy initiative, which funds partnerships between healthcare systems and food banks. Through these clinic-based “food pharmacies,” patients can fill prescriptions (written by their healthcare providers) for free nutritious foods. This year, with national partner Feeding America, Cardinal Health awarded new grants to four food pharmacies focused on improving health outcomes for adults with diabetes.
  • Henry Schein committed to donating $50 million in cash and product by 2025 through their “Henry Schein Cares” corporate social responsibility program and their Foundation to advance health equity. To further efforts to address inequity in healthcare, Henry Schein has partnered with the Black Coalition Against COVID to determine recommendations and strategies to accelerate equitable access to the COVID-19 vaccine. This collaboration is a key component of the company's advocacy for vaccine equity and the vital role primary-care physicians and other office-based healthcare practitioners play in expanding COVID-19 vaccinations nationwide.
  • Medline introduced their "Medline CARES" program, which invests crucial financial and human resources to stimulate health equity and improve population health. In 2020, the program provided more than $170,000 to partner with organizations tackling issues like food insecurity, economic stability and education support.

Supporting Patients in Need

While COVID-19 has been the overriding public health challenge of the past 20 months, the everyday needs of patients have not gone away. Beyond their daily work ensuring the safe, efficient, and reliable delivery of medicines and healthcare products, the following HDA members are supporting local partners to help patients and providers:
  • McKesson provided small grants and free comfort care packages to Cancer Care Community Partners across the U.S. and Canada. As of fiscal year 2020, McKesson has provided care packages to 110,000 cancer patients. These care packages are created by employees during McKesson’s annual "Community Days" volunteering event. McKesson participated in the American Cancer Society’s Fit2Be Cancer Free Challenge in 2020 and 2021 and contributed to the American Cancer Society and Canadian Cancer Society to support programs for cancer patients and caregivers.
  • Cardinal Health partnered with the Zero Suicide Institute to create a national Zero Suicide Collaborative of 17 adult and children’s hospitals, to help prevent suicide deaths among those already in the healthcare system. Each grantee is committed to patient safety and the safety and support of clinical staff, as well as supporting a community focus on suicide prevention. Through the collaborative, grantees are tracking and sharing learnings and best practices with each other, with the Zero Suicide Institute and with Cardinal Health to inform and improve future suicide prevention work.
    • Further, Cardinal Health recently completed a two-year initiative that funded state pharmacy organizations partnering with schools of pharmacy across five states (Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin) to combat the opioid epidemic. Starting in 2019, Cardinal Health provided nearly $1 million in grants through its Optimal Prescribing for Pain Management Collaborative, designed to help bridge the communication gap between prescribers, pharmacists and patients in these states, and spread tools and resources to improve pain management and pain medication prescribing.
  • Henry Schein donated more than 10 million personal protective equipment items earlier this year to non-governmental organizations for frontline healthcare workers and social service providers. The donation was distributed in more than 40 counties and territories by Americares, Direct Relief, International College of Dentists, MAP International, MedShare, Project HOPE and Special Olympics.
Check back for part three to learn more about how distributors have swiftly taken action to rise to the challenge of supporting local communities amid the COVID-19 pandemic.