If you’re a healthcare professional looking to increase the diversity of your team, there are some steps you can take to improve healthcare equity in the workplace. These steps can include establishing Consortia of like-minded organizations, reducing health disparities at the point of care, educating and training healthcare professionals, and evaluating and measuring success.
Education and Training of Healthcare Professionals
Healthcare equity is an essential component of any healthcare system. It refers to providing safe, effective, and quality care to all people, including those who are vulnerable or otherwise disadvantaged.
Education and training of healthcare professionals to help building health equity in the workplace are critical. The goals of a health professional education program should be to ensure future professionals have the skills needed to fulfill their contract with patients and their communities. They should also learn how to incorporate social determinants of health into their practice.
Current systems of health care have been plagued by centuries of inequities. As a result, they must continue to adapt to society’s changing needs. To achieve this goal, community-engaged initiatives are necessary.
In addition, the current health professions education model must evolve in response to the evolving demographics of the population. Health education institutions must create clear pathways for students to raise concerns.
Recent developments in health professions education have focused on professionalism. Students are expected to take on the healthcare professional role during their clinical immersion. Yet, their contributions to patient care are often minimal.
Changing societal demands and advances in science and technology can expand the disparity between student preparation and societal needs. New models of clinical care are also emerging.
Consortia of Likeminded Organizations
For some reason, the healthcare industry has largely failed to note that the best place to improve the quality of care is right in our backyard. The requisite capital and hard work will be rewarded through better patient outcomes and more equitable distribution of the spoils. This will not only have a positive impact on the quality of care but the economy as a whole.
The best place to start is to get to know your local hospital or health center. They are invariably a wealth of information, both in and out of the office. In addition to knowing the front desk staff, you should also learn about the hospital’s mission statement, which lays out its goals and objectives. While you’re at it, make sure you have the name and address of the medical director on speed dial. After all, he’s the linchpin of your healthcare system.
Consortia of like-minded organizations can also play a role in your ward’s healthcare puzzle. Some hospitals and clinics are forming partnerships to provide everything from lab services and pharmacy to onsite nursing, clinical training and telehealth services. Others are partnering with like-minded medical professionals to share resources and knowledge. There are plenty of opportunities for collaboration, particularly in the digital age.
Reducing Health Disparities Directly at the Point of Care
Health disparities are a critical issue for healthcare providers. They are often a result of social factors such as economic inequality and structural racism. Increasing the health of these groups requires a multidisciplinary approach.
Practical strategies for reducing health disparities can be divided into at-point interventions and systems-based approaches. At-point interventions involve improving the quality of care delivered at the point of service. By incorporating these interventions into existing systems, healthcare organizations can reduce the impact of disparities on patients.
Systems-based approaches are more focused on the more extensive health system. These efforts include creating partnerships among community-based organizations, healthcare providers, and policymakers. Organizations should also recruit a diverse workforce. This will enable staff to respond better to the needs of various patients.
In the United States, significant medical advances have led to increased health disparities. For instance, patients of color have higher rates of mortality than whites. Moreover, African-Americans are more likely to be uninsured and have access to less-than-effective health resources.
Evaluating and Measuring Success
When healthcare providers and delivery systems make equity a strategic priority, substantial improvements can be achieved in the quality of care. By reevaluating current care delivery, reinvesting in infrastructure, and engaging communities, health providers and systems can improve the patient experience. However, success depends on leadership commitment.
Leaders must be committed to equity as a core value. They must also provide the organizational resources to address inequities. A standardized, data-driven approach to equity measurement will enable organizations to narrow gaps and enhance improvement.
For healthcare organizations, measuring the effectiveness of their efforts is an essential part of any equity strategy. Equity-focused measures should include a social and economic assessment of a population’s socioeconomic status. The measure should also reward improvement and reduce gaps.
In addition, measures for capturing and eliminating inequities should be tailored to different population groups. This includes evaluating the effects of other interventions and identifying the sources of disparities. Creating an equity dashboard will ensure that equity-related information is presented to leaders.
As healthcare providers and delivery systems work toward improving health outcomes, they need to create an effective system of governance. Governance should engage key partners and communities. It should include a diversity of voices, including patients. Providing equity-focused leadership will increase trust among stakeholders.
Creating an equity-focused culture within an organization will ensure that healthcare providers and delivery systems understand the importance of equity and the value of diversity. Equity at an organization’s core will help it achieve long-term sustainability.