The path forward in addressing healthcare inequity requires cutting-edge technology

Sept. 21, 2023

Sadly, the current reality of healthcare for millions of people in the United States looks bleak. In 2022, there were 30 million Americans who had no health insurance, and more than 85 million were enrolled in Medicaid.1,2 Lack of insurance or finding clinicians that accept subsidized coverage can dissuade patients from receiving medical care.

People of color and diverse backgrounds have faced longstanding disparities in health coverage that contribute to inequalities in health. The ongoing gaps in coverage for this community have wide-ranging implications for people’s access to care, and ultimately, leading to unnecessary illness. According to a recent Harris survey,3 about 1 in 10 Hispanic and Black women say they have never had an OB/GYN visit for routine care and similar proportions say they have never had a Pap test. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2021, the maternal mortality rate for non-Hispanic Black women was 69.9 deaths per 100,000 live births, 2.6 times the rate for non-Hispanic white women.4  

While patients get annual wellness visits so providers can assess their overall health and detect any concerns, studies confirm that patients who regularly see a clinician tend to be healthier than those who do not schedule routine visits.5,6 But this only works if patients can access the care they need despite economic barriers or lack of resources. Even before the pandemic disrupted the foundations of the healthcare system, many Americans struggled to access the care they needed. But now, the struggle has intensified due to healthcare facilities being understaffed and flooded with patients catching up on appointments they put off over the last three years. Providers and lab technicians are being stretched thin as they manage the sudden influx of testing.7 There is no doubt that systems need to be improved for all. That is where technology can come in; it can enhance testing in every way — from accuracy, speed, and accessibility.

Many healthcare systems, including Planned Parenthood, are currently facing demanding healthcare conditions in 2023, such as economic pressure, labor shortages, an influx of patients, and lingering effects from COVID-19. Clinicians and staff shortages brought on by the pandemic have drastically changed how healthcare institutions operate and handle resources. It is especially felt in non-profit organizations like ours that serve as a crucial part of patients’ safety nets.

With new technology from our partnership with BD, Planned Parenthood Mar Monte will now further deliver high-impact results for its patients, most of whom are 200% below the poverty level. This new system for sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing processes tests at a significantly faster rate and at a higher volume than our lab’s previous technology — an important step in providing health equity for our patients. The automation, moderate complexity, and faster turnaround time offered with this new technology help providers do their job better by getting results to people in a more timely manner before their symptoms lead to worse disease.

Additionally, we are preparing our system to include an HPV analytical instrument that automates HPV tests that individually identifies HPV 31, a high-risk genotype, allowing for a more precise, accurate way to measure a woman’s risk for developing cervical precancer and cancer compared to an assay with partial genotyping.8

As we look ahead, healthcare providers, payers, and medical technology companies need to be truly committed to health equity as a strategic imperative. We need more medical technology companies joining BD in creating systems that help organizations like ours with overburdened clinicians and lab techs. Investing in medical technology solutions like this provides faster and more cost-effective ways to improve patient outcomes, which can help ease the pressure on healthcare systems by reducing the burden on lab teams by providing a higher volume of results in less time. A greater shift toward more medical technology eases the pressure on the entire healthcare system, creating a better future for both patients and providers. Clinicians deserve the best tools to help do their jobs better – better technologies provide clinicians and patients with more precise test results, leading to better patient care. The glue that holds our healthcare system together is coming perilously close to dissolving. And if we have any hope of saving it, we must collectively find new ways of providing healthcare staff with the resources needed to deliver gold-standard care for all. It’s time to think boldly and reimagine the status quo.

Just recently, Planned Parenthood Mar Monte installed a BD COR™ PX/MX System for sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing.

Planned Parenthood Mar Monte will be expanding its system to include BD COR™ GX instrument, an HPV analytical instrument that automates the BD Onclarity™ HPV Assay, the only FDA approved HPV test that individually identifies HPV 31, a high-risk genotype. The BD Onclarity™ HPV Assay allows for a more precise, accurate way to measure a woman’s risk for developing cervical precancer and cancer compared to an assay with partial genotyping.


1.     Nearly 30 Million Americans Have No Health Insurance. Peter G. Peterson Foundation. Published November 17 2022. Accessed April 7 2023.

2.      April 2023 Medicaid & CHIP enrollment data highlights. Accessed August 21, 2023.

3.      New Harris Poll Reveals Significant Gaps in Women’s Knowledge about Cervical Cancer. BD. Published January 5 2023. Accessed April 7 2023.

4.      Maternal mortality rates in the United States, 2021. Published March 16, 2023. Accessed August 22, 2023.

5.      Basu S, Berkowitz SA, Phillips RL, et al. Association of Primary Care Physician Supply With Population Mortality in the United States, 2005-2015. JAMA Intern Med. 2019;1;179(4):506-514. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.7624. 

6.      Starfield B, Shi L, Macinko J. Contribution of primary care to health systems and health. Milbank Q. 2005;83(3):457-502. doi:10.1111/j.1468-0009.2005.00409.x.

7.      Nguyen B. It’s not just you: Americans everywhere are waiting longer to see a doctor. Business Insider. Published online October 24, 2022. Accessed August 21, 2023.

8.      BD receives FDA Approval for HPV Test with Extended Genotyping Capabilities. BD. Published July 22 2022. Accessed April 7 2023.