Health Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. Easier Said Than Done?
// By Marcia Simon, APR //
Just the notion that groups of people are overlooked or marginalized means there’s much work to be done to level the playing field. The past year of glaring health disparities revealed that health care as an industry needs to step up and root out biases, even when unconscious, that impact the quality of care some patients receive. Dedicated health equity, diversity, and inclusion teams from leading organizations are paving the way.
It sounds easy enough to make a commitment to the mission, but it’s huge, and often lives beneath the mind’s surface.
How do you train your staff about biases toward patients and colleagues when they don’t believe they have any? We all grow up with assumptions and stereotypical views of the world and the people in it. For the health care industry, fair and equal access to quality education impacts the pathway to medical school and residency, career advancement, and the way physicians and staff relate to their patients and fellow workers.
For most other health networks nationwide, the need for a formal diversity, inclusion, and health equity strategy manifested during COVID. First came the obvious disparity in testing, then in telemedicine access. A year later it exists with vaccines, wrapping up a year when Black Lives Matter took center stage, and the nation elected a president during a pandemic that made it painfully obvious that not everyone has equal access to cast their vote.
To better understand the issues and how they are being addressed, we interviewed health equity, diversity, and inclusion leaders from three organizations: