Distrust in healthcare is deep seeded especially in the black community.
“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” This is from Martin Luther Kings’ “ I Have A Dream” Speech and is profoundly rooted in healthcare. Healthcare is for all and good healthcare begins with the patient experience in the eyes of many, especially minorities.
Disparities exist in the quality of care received within minority populations even when insurance is the same, socioeconomic status is no different, and when the same comorbidities exist in their White counterparts. With the population of the U.S. becoming more diverse it is significantly important to address disparities. “Eliminating health disparities for minority populations would have reduced direct medical care expenditures by $230 billion dollars” CMS Achieving Health Equity Web-Based Training Course. 2022. The Institute for Healthcare Triple Aim Framework focuses on 1. Improving the patient experience of care (including quality and satisfaction); 2. Improving the health of populations; and 3. Reducing the per capita cost of health care.
As noted, the patient experience is a driver of the Triple Aim. Three keys to that aim are the patient and how they interact with providers, staff, and physicians and how they treat patients. Distrust in healthcare is deep seeded especially in the black community but begins with the initial patient interaction and can directly impact outcomes. How can one have a positive outcome if they shy away from the medicine? Social determinants of health are the conditions in the places where people live, learn, work, play, and worship that affect a wide range of health risks and outcomes also have impact on achieving equality for all within healthcare. As noted, by the CDC, “Both historical and current experiences of racism and discrimination contribute to mistrust of the healthcare system among racial and ethnic minority groups…To prevent widening health inequities, healthcare providers should engage with communities to tailor strategies aimed at overcoming mistrust” and refocus on improving the patient experience within minority populations.
This could be as simple as looking at and talking to the patient as much as possible when reviewing and entering data within the electronic health record or as complex as understanding appropriate questions within a certain ethnic group predominant in your community.
Tips for improving the health equity and the patient experience of minorities within your organization include the following:
- Accept and recognize this is a problem
- Recruit and employ a diverse workforce
- Make addressing this issue a priority by assigning a senior leader to this area
- Get trained and invest in staff training for all members from the front line to back end to leadership
- Develop talking points to ease patient concerns, help them understand, and help foster engagement, especially with data collection
- Determine initiatives you will focus on
- Highlight initiatives within leadership meetings with scorecards
- Do something with the data you collect, and concerns identified
- Share your focus areas internally and with the community in a way that makes sense
Remember healthcare is for all and how you move forward with patient interaction now will determine the impact on healthcare in the future.
Programming Note: Listen to Sharon Easterling report this story live today on Talk Ten Tuesdays, 10 Eastern.