In a recent interview, Adam Lenkowsky, senior vice president and general manager of U.S. Cardiovascular, Immunology and Oncology, discussed the critical role of community health workers and patient navigators in eliminating barriers to care.
Q: How are these new Bristol Myers Squibb Health Equity grants differentiated and what are the goals of the grantees?
Adam: These new grants total nearly $8 million and are focused on scaling proven methods to reach medically underserved patients and communities across the U.S.
We recognize the absolutely critical role community health workers and patient navigators play in removing barriers patients may face in accessing high quality healthcare, including access to medical innovations and clinical trials.
We’ve selected 24 U.S. nonprofits that train and mobilize community health workers and patient navigators to increase access among medically underserved patients and communities in the U.S. across oncology, cardiology, immunology and hematology therapeutic areas.
The grants are intended to bolster community outreach and engagement, increase care coordination services and ensure an ethnically diverse, culturally competent community health worker and patient navigator workforce.
We are very excited to support these organizations and their incredible work.
Q: Why are community health workers and patient navigators so critical to making real change in communities?
Adam: Community health workers and patient navigators bring deep knowledge of their local health systems and the unique barriers experienced by patients in their communities.
Through their commitment to helping patients, they are essential for enhancing access to high-quality clinical care, increasing patients’ health literacy, reducing inequities and eliminating breakages in the continuum of care.
At Bristol Myers Squibb, we learn a lot from and support these partners who are trusted members of their communities. They can move the needle on health equity by removing barriers to access.
Q: How do you feel about the progress Bristol Myers Squibb has made in addressing health disparities since making the D&I and Health Equity Commitments in 2020?
Adam: I am very proud of how our workforce is steadfast in making progress towards our D&I and Health Equity Commitments of $150 million over five years to address health disparities, increase clinical trial diversity, expand supplier diversity, increase workforce representation and enhance employee giving in support of social justice organizations.
These new Health Equity grants are strongly community-oriented and continue to drive deeper investments in proven health equity solutions. They build on last year’s $11 million in Health Equity grants that were broad-based and addressed disease awareness and education, patient support services, access to care, patient affordability, diversity in clinical trials, diversity in the healthcare and biomedical research workforce, health disparities research and health equity policy advancement.
We are making steady progress and, to date, our total support in addressing health disparities as part of our 2020 Commitments is just over $39 million.
Q: Why are you personally excited about these Commitments overall and these new grants?
Adam: Healthcare and medical innovations need to work for everyone. At Bristol Myers Squibb, we are only successful if our medicines reach every patient who needs them. We have a responsibility to deliver on our promise of transforming patients’ lives, and it is crucial that we demonstrate our D&I and Health Equity Commitments through our actions.
We can move the needle on achieving health equity by leaning into our commitment to patients, fostering collaboration – including with these new grantees – and collectively finding innovative solutions as an industry to reach the medically underserved.
We are headed in the right direction and that is what energizes me. Our work doesn’t stop here, though – there is so much more we can accomplish together to continue improving patient access. I look forward to Bristol Myers Squibb continuing to take these important steps and I urge everyone to be active ambassadors of change for our communities.