The conventional wisdom
Every clinician strives to comprehensively address patient’s individual biopsychosocial needs. In a perfect world, delivering on this commitment would result in equitable care that meets all patients’ needs. And yet, ample evidence indicates that disparities in care delivery and outcomes persist at the point of care.
- 22% less likely that Black patients report receiving pain medication than white patients
- 70% of transgender or non-binary patients report experiencing discrimination in health care
- 3x more likely that a Black newborn dies in the hospital, compared to a white newborn, when cared for by a white physician
- 0.75-1.47 days longer LOS for patients who do not receive professional interpretation services
- 50% of readmissions are caused by social determinants of health
This unwarranted variation in care is often the result of pervasive systemic and societal challenges that go far beyond any particular caregiver, setting, or health system. In light of the stark patient population disparities revealed by Covid-19 and the national dialogue around historical and modern-day inequities, every health care organization has a renewed mandate to address disparities.
Many organizations are invested in advancing health equity, diversity, and inclusion within their organizations and communities. Their efforts to date have typically focused on increasing workforce diversity and staff training.
The theory behind increasing workforce diversity is: a workforce that more closely matches the demographics of a local population may be able to provide more culturally sensitive care. Staff with more diverse backgrounds may better understand patients’ realities and identify organizational blind spots.
The goal of training is to help staff recognize their own innate biases, thus enabling them to provide culturally sensitive care to all patients, especially those whose background and culture are different. Typical training topics include diversity and inclusion, implicit bias, and patient care guidance for specific non-dominant populations.