At the heart of Johnson & Johnson’s commitment to health equity is our desire to create a world where the color of your skin does not determine your access to care, quality of care or health outcomes. Launched in 2020, Our Race to Health Equity (ORTHE) is our $100 million, enterprise-wide initiative focused on closing the racial health gap in the U.S.
The Johnson & Johnson ORTHE initiative focuses on eradicating racial and social injustice as a public health threat by eliminating health inequities for people of color in the U.S. We are committed to closing the racial health gap by investing in culturally competent community care models that create healthy outcomes for people of color.
By the end of 2022, we had committed more than $52 million to advance ORTHE programs in the following areas:
Community Health Capacity Building
Expanding access to affordable, community-centric care through investments in community health centers, community health workers and other care model innovations.
Community Engagement and Education
Empowering patients and end users with tools, resources and community-based services to “own” their health and increase health literacy.
Inclusive Research and Representative Clinical Trials
Increasing access to clinical trials through diverse site selection and patient recruitment, as well as incorporating equity into end-to-end therapy and device design.
Culturally Competent Care
Increasing the racial and ethnic diversity of the healthcare talent pipeline and workforce and promoting an equitable point of care experience for BIPOC patients.
People of color in the U.S. face higher incidences of, and death rates from, conditions such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and COVID-19.25
Community health capacity building
Three programs helped to expand access to affordable, community centric care.
Community health workers in Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee benefited from a health worker network collaborative grant that we contributed to establishing alongside management skills training of executive directors and leaders of community-based healthcare organizations. Working in partnership with many organizations, we aim to help build trust between under-resourced communities and health systems, backed by our commitment to supporting 200,000 HCPs and researchers by 2025.
By the end of 2022, 307,000 U.S. HCPs and researchers were provided development and support to help create more equitable healthcare systems.
We also launched a new initiative to support climate resilience at community healthcare clinics in the U.S. that serve people with limited access to care in communities most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Through a collaboration with Americares and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment (Harvard Chan C-CHANGE), we aim to bolster operational resilience in clinics, as well as the resilience of healthcare workers, to help minimize disruptions in healthcare caused by extreme weather events. The goal is to support 100 medical clinics across the U.S. by 2025.
In 2022, Johnson & Johnson awarded the winners of its Health Equity Innovation Challenge, designed to empower communities and accelerate solutions by stimulating innovation, entrepreneurship and social impact. The Challenge called on local entrepreneurs in Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York and Philadelphia to deliver locally inspired, innovative approaches to advance health equity. Engaging credible community leaders who understood local health challenges, the independent selection committee chose 14 winners from more than 180 applicants. The winners included community organizations that provide services, including free healthcare to under-resourced neighborhoods; improving birth and maternal health outcomes for Black families; and providing youth, educators and communities with programs designed to support mental wellness and equity. Each winner was awarded seed funding from a pool of more than $1 million, along with mentorship from renowned entrepreneurs and public health experts and access to the JLABS ecosystem. Following the Challenge, many of these organizations have continued to positively impact their communities and are actively expanding.
Community engagement and education
Three innovative programs continued under the ORTHE umbrella, helping people be more informed about options to prioritize healthcare and treatment. My Health Can’t Wait is an educational effort and resource hub created by J&J MedTech to inspire people to get the information they need to pursue care with confidence, especially after the experience of the COVID-19 pandemic that caused many Americans to delay healthcare treatment.
Through J&J MedTech’s Signature Equity Program, we are identifying communities across the U.S. where we can help deliver the most impact, forming partnerships with community-based organizations and offering Johnson & Johnson resources and expertise to help meet community healthcare needs. In 2022, J&J MedTech and Janssen helped provide free health education and access to health screenings to thousands of community members at events in Atlanta; Chicago; Columbia, South Carolina; and Los Angeles, and the plan is to expand to other populations around the world in 2023.
Save Legs, Change Lives is a multiyear initiative by Janssen to address the hidden threat of peripheral artery disease (PAD)-related amputation. Black Americans with PAD have up to four times higher risk of amputation than white Americans.26 Janssen collaborated with leading professional associations, including the American College of Cardiology, as well as healthcare systems and community organizations to raise awareness of PAD-related issues and facilitate equitable access to treatment. Through 2022, Janssen continued to share PAD information widely, implemented thousands of free screenings and advanced research to help overcome PAD-related health inequities.
Johnson & Johnson Vision was the first major eye health company to sign The 13% Promise, an initiative created by nonprofit Black EyeCare Perspective to increase equity and representation in optometry to mirror the 13% of Black people in the U.S. population.
Culturally competent care
In line with our goal to promote better care for people of color by addressing unconscious bias in healthcare, we co-launched a cross-sector partnership initiative, Unconscious Bias and Disparities in Healthcare: A Call to Action, with a Continuing Medical Education program at its core. The program targets HCPs in communities of color and assists them to enact changes in their daily practice to improve patient care and outcomes. Additionally, we maintained our sponsorship of the Alliance for Inclusion in Medicine Scholarship Program, a scholarship and mentorship commitment launched in 2021 with National Medical Fellowships (NMF) and the Alliance for Inclusion in Medicine (AIM). Between 2021 and 2022, we welcomed two cohorts of underrepresented medical students—40 in total—to the program and have committed over $2 million in scholarship funding across both cohorts. With support from Johnson & Johnson, NMF welcomed an inaugural cohort of 20 underrepresented medical students and selected a second cohort of second- and third-year medical school scholars. AIM scholars were paired with a Johnson & Johnson mentor to provide guidance and insight as these young scholars embark on their medical career journey.
Additionally, in 2022, we expanded our pioneering Climate and Health Equity Fellowship, which was created with the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health and the National Medical Association to support physicians of color to become leaders in climate and health equity education, advocacy and policy solutions. Our increased contribution for the second class of Fellows supported 15 physicians from across the U.S., representing diverse specialties, advocacy experiences, cultural backgrounds and interests in climate and health, enhancing their leadership capabilities as medical professionals in caring for patients and for our planet.
Inclusive research and representative clinical trials
We advance multiple initiatives to enhance the diversity of healthcare across several dimensions that include Johnson & Johnson R&D and outreach to community representatives and advocates. One example is Research Includes Me, an initiative of Janssen that is a community-focused campaign designed to create awareness and engagement within Black and Brown communities to elevate the discussion around clinical trials. The campaign helps build trust-based relationships with communities to provide clinical trial information and hosts an educational website to provide underrepresented patients with greater access to information and resources about clinical trial research.
25U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, “Profile: Black/African Americans,” https://www.minorityhealth.hhs.gov/omh/browse.aspx?lvl=3&lvlid=61, accessed February 2023.
26 National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, “Facts About Peripheral Artery Disease (for P.A.D.) for African Americans,” https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/files/docs/public/heart/pad_extfactsheet_aa_508.pdf, accessed February 2023.