Regence leaders join Salt Lake Chamber panel discussion on importance of DEI to ensure health equity

By Regence
November 16, 2022
Regence Utah at Salt Lake Chamber DEI panel 2023

Main photo from the left: Dr. Donna Milavetz, Regence chief medical officer; Tonya Adams, senior vice president of consumer experience and operations; Michael Ann Benchoff, assistant director of health equity; and Kayla Norman, corporate social responsibility manager. Miguel Rovira, director of community and business relations, moderates from the podium.

Our health and well-being are influenced by more than genetics and personal choices. In many communities, economic and social factors overwhelmingly cause disparities in health outcomes. Often called social determinants of health (SDoH), these factors can have a negative impact in communities where disparities exist due to inequitable actions and systems.

At Regence, we understand that diversity and inclusion are key to ensuring more equitable health care. In light of surging mental health needs, economic challenges and other factors, we’ve launched several diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives to better support our most vulnerable members and their communities.

A cross-functional panel from Regence recently discussed the importance of DEI in ensuring health equity at the Salt Lake Chamber 2022 Business Diversity Summit. The panel shared insights with fellow business and community leaders interested in advancing diversity, equity and inclusion in Utah.

Diversity and inclusion’s role in equitable access to health care

As the chief medical officer at Regence, Dr. Donna Milavetz noted the importance of embracing DEI as a key component to interactions with care providers and collectively addressing SDoH creating barriers to well-being. When diversity, equity and inclusion are embedded in the health care delivery system:

  • Patients receive more compassionate care
  • Health outcomes are improved
  • Engagement with making healthier choices or following a care plan increases

“A commitment to health equity is about promoting whole-person health, that’s the integration of physical, behavioral and social well-being” Milavetz said. “At Regence, we’re increasing awareness of unique circumstances and barriers that may be negatively impacting some of our members and expanding traditional medical interventions to address them.”

How Regence is tackling health inequities

During the panel conversation, Tonya Adams, senior vice president of customer experience and operations at Regence, emphasized Regence’s focus on personalization in order to meet the individual needs of increasingly diverse health plan members.

“As a health care organization, we have a responsibility to make sure that no one falls through the cracks,” Adams said. “Therefore, we are working to make health care more accessible and inclusive for everyone we serve with consideration for culture, language, disability, etc.”

Here are just a few examples:

  • Enhanced online provider search tool with cultural health signifiers to help members find a provider who speaks their language and meets their personal preferences and cultural needs  
  • Significantly expanded network of behavioral and mental health providers to address culturally specific care needs as well as increase access
  • Leveraging data to gain insight on an individual member level and a broader neighborhood level to identify adverse differences in experience, access and quality of care

Data-driven insights leading to improvements for Regence members

Assistant director of health equity programs at Regence, Michael Ann Benchoff, talked about what the health plan is doing to ensure health equity for members, especially in communities where disparities are known.

“We’re focused on embodying principles of equity in our processes, practices and policies to support all members, regardless of their socially determined circumstances,” Benchoff said.

To date, our data-driven actions include:

  • Screening for social barriers during member interactions
  • Connecting our members to culturally responsive care
  • Matching provider expertise and competencies with specific demographics
  • Incentivizing providers to screen for and address social needs

Addressing health equity within communities where disparities are known

Kayla Norman, corporate social responsibility manager at Regence, discussed our collaborative work with community partners to effectively address SDoH barriers and resolve disparities. For more information, click here.

“Our 10-year community and social impact vision is to advance equity by investing in programs that expand access to whole-person health in underserved communities,” Norman said.

From a corporate philanthropic perspective, Regence is focused on three key population groups:

  • Young children and their families
  • Adults over the age of 55
  • The workforce we serve

DEI is central to our business

At Regence, our commitment to DEI aims to empower all members to live healthier, longer lives. Through innovative strategies and targeted investments, we’re working toward helping individuals achieve better health outcomes while advancing health equity in the broader community.

Our award-winning Customer Service team is available to help Regence members access care when and where it’s needed, at the best possible price. Members can sign in at to explore health plan benefits, search for in-network providers and more. We’re also available online through live chat and the message center or members can call us at the number listed on their Regence member ID card.