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In her third year of medical school, IU Health Gastroenterologist Lauren Nephew, MD, became intrigued by hepatology — and more specifically — the impact that social and structural determinants of health can have on liver disease outcomes.
And ever since that realization, she’s devoted her career to better understanding how barriers affect vulnerable populations.
“Access to care is a fundamental necessity in life,” said Dr. Nephew. “It’s really basic.”
When she’s not treating patients with liver cancer, Dr. Nephew is formulating solutions to how she can make that “basic need” of care more obtainable for patients who face transportation, language and education barriers, as well as financial constraints.
Currently, she is developing an intervention system that will make it easier for IU Health physicians to know when their patients are having trouble navigating the system, enabling them to know which patients may need more help than others when it comes to accessing healthcare.
Dr. Nephew knows more needs to be done and believes philanthropy is key to effectively addressing health inequities in the community.
“Philanthropy is extremely helpful in the space of healthcare barriers because developing solutions to disparities is expensive,” said Dr. Nephew. “You have to really spend some time trying to understand where the disparities are happening, and then you have to create custom solutions that are sustainable.”
Since joining IU Health in 2017, Dr. Nephew says she finds purpose in centering her work on advancing diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.
“I try to be sure that everything I do professionally is in line with this theme,” she said. “My patient advocacy work focuses solely on improving minority health, and it’s a privilege to be able to do this work.”
You can help support efforts like this when you make a gift to the Racial Equity in Healthcare Fund. Make your donation on our giving page, and select “IU Health Statewide” as the location, and direct your gift to the “Statewide Racial Equity in Healthcare Fund.”