Equity Innovation Medicine (EquIMED) — formerly Innovation in Rural Global Medicine (IRGmed) — is a four-year elective available to medical students at the University of Illinois College of Medicine Peoria. It teaches students the tools and techniques of innovation required to create sustainable change, improve access to health care, and reduce health disparities in underserved communities both globally and in the US. This unique program incorporates the expertise of OSF Innovation located in the Jump Trading Simulation and Education Center to help students create and develop solutions to real-world health challenges.

First and Second Years

Through the partnership, EquIMED students not only experience health care delivery and public health from expert practitioners, they also learn from experts in the fields of engineering, medical visualization, human-centered design, advanced analytics, and performance improvement through multiple interactive small group seminars and simulations. They also spend focused time in rural primary care clinics throughout their first two years.

Third Year

Students complete a 2-week course that includes a variety of classroom and simulation sessions to provide students with an understanding of clinical care practice in austere settings, cultural humility, and the innovation design process. Students then complete a 2-week immersive experience in an under-resourced environment where they work with key stakeholders to develop innovative prototype solutions to address local health challenges. Some prototypes will then be further developed in partnership with the OSF Innovation Labs.

Fourth Year

Students complete a capstone project that includes a final paper, poster, and presentation to demonstrate what they’ve learned about how innovation can be used to reduce health disparities and improve care in the most vulnerable populations in the U.S. and globally, including many rural low-resource communities.

Students have the option to be placed at a global rural, U.S. rural, or U.S. urban partner site. In AY 2019-2021, immersive experiences were completed in Mbarara, Uganda and Streator, IL. Global and U.S. sites may vary from year to year.

Students are assigned problem statements specific to their placement site, and onsite, they will work in pairs to present research summaries, learn from local subject matter experts, identify gaps in care delivery, observe existing processes, and finally develop prototype solution pitches.

The AY 2019-2020 health challenge topics included: improving access to prenatal care; early screening and diagnosis of depression; empowerment and education of “patient attendants” as part of a clinical team; and food insecurity and utilization of a mobile clinic to reach vulnerable populations.

EquIMED leadership will work collaboratively with partner sites to identify specific, pertinent, and current health challenge topics that exist in their communities. Students will be assigned topics in the fall semester (M3 year) prior to departure.

Low-resource communities in the U.S. and around the world face significant disparities in health outcomes. These are complex challenges that will require creative and innovative solutions not only to reduce cost but also to improve access to quality care and improve health outcomes in our most vulnerable populations. By collaborating with U.S. and global partners, information and solutions can be shared across borders to improve the lives of people in the U.S. and around the world.
Innovative solutions could include a digital tool or technology, a better way of identifying at-risk individuals or communities, or improving education and communication through the use of technology. The key components of this innovative approach are developing solutions that are sustainable, highly scalable, applicable in multiple low-resource settings, and improve health equity among vulnerable populations.


Sarah de Ramirez, MD, MPH, MSc
Director, Equity Innovation Medicine
[email protected]

Erica Litzsey
Program Coordinator, Equity Innovation Medicine
[email protected]