Why — And How — To Be Transparent About The Diversity In Your Healthcare Organization
In the United States, healthcare is not equal.
There are any number of factors that can impact your ability to receive the care you need — socioeconomic status, geographic location, sexual identity and orientation, race. These factors can all play a role in which resources you have access to, which can influence your health and generally lead to poorer health outcomes.
Racial health disparities, in particular, are staggering.
Racial Health Disparities In The US
- In 2017, more than double the amount of Hispanic Americans were uninsured compared to white Americans.
- In 2018, less than half the amount of Black adults received mental health services compared to white adults.
- In 2017, American Indian and Alaska Native adults were nearly 3 times more likely to have diabetes compared to white adults — and 2.5 more times likely to die from it.
- Compared to any other racial or ethnic group, Black Americans continue to have the highest mortality rate for all cancers combined.
Source: Center for American Progress
These are just a few of the many statistics that highlight the very real problem of racial health disparities in the US. While no solution can fully address this problem on its own, one has recently made its way to the forefront of the healthcare system — diversity in the healthcare workforce.
Many studies point to the fact that when healthcare professionals look like their patients, it enhances the quality of care for patients and the overall health status of community members — many of whom are impacted by health disparities.
The case for diversity in healthcare is airtight. And it’s exactly why healthcare organizations around the country are stepping up their Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) efforts, including hiring, retaining, and promoting a diverse staff.
The problem is — talking the talk and walking the walk are two different things. And unfortunately, too many organizations are all talk.
- Nearly 90% of all hospital CEOs were white — even though just 60% of the population was white.
- Just 5% of physicians were Black — despite nearly 13% of the population being Black.
Sources: American College of Healthcare Executives, Association of American Medical Colleges, US Census Bureau
With these disheartening statistics — and the fact that not much progress is being made — not all healthcare organizations can flaunt a diverse and inclusive healthcare workforce in good faith.
Unfortunately, many still do.
Being transparent about the diversity of your healthcare organization is key. But it’s also important not to be deceitful in the process, whether that’s in your marketing efforts, on your website, or in conversations with your community members.
As you amp up your DE&I efforts in your healthcare organization, here are 3 factors to keep in mind.
1. Actually Build A Diverse Healthcare Organization
Step one should be obvious, but just in case it’s not — everything starts with building a diverse workforce.
Our country is a diverse one, and it’s becoming even more so. In fact, according to projections from the US Census Bureau, patient populations will move to a majority-minority balance by 2045.
And yet, our healthcare system does not reflect that.
Now is the time to recruit, build, support, and retain a workforce that looks like and understands your patient population. When patients interact with clinical staff members who share their gender, race, ethnicity, or language, they’re more likely to build a strong rapport.
This leads to stronger interpersonal care, enhanced medical comprehension, and higher chances of sticking with follow-up appointments — all of which can help address health disparities.
2. Be Transparent About Where You Are
As a healthcare organization, it’s critical for you to come to a common understanding of your organizational values. Who you are, what you stand for, and what you believe in are key aspects of whether or not a patient will want to come to you for care.
If that includes a commitment to diversity and inclusion, make that known — within your organization, to your patients, within your community, and on your website.
At the same time, if you are not at a place where you can truly say you have a diverse workforce, don’t be dishonest.
For instance, don’t build a website using stock images that depict a diverse staff when that’s not the case. And don’t release statements of support that contain plenty of buzzwords but loads of empty promises. These actions are not only deceitful, but they are also misguiding for the patient experience.
3. And Be Transparent About Where You’re Going
Whether you have a diverse workforce or not, be honest about your organization’s goals for the future.
If your healthcare organization is already diverse, talk about how you are going to utilize those diverse perspectives to better serve your patient population and reduce health disparities. Be open about how you are supporting the people of color within your organization, including their growth toward leadership positions.
If your workforce is not yet diverse, discuss the concrete steps you are taking to get there. For instance, if you have a DE&I Committee, who’s on it? What do they do? Who is holding them accountable? Or, if you’re implementing hiring practices that support diversity, what are those exactly? What progress have you made so far? Who is overseeing this process?
Diversity and inclusion are no doubt an essential part of healthcare that must be enhanced, supported, and talked about.
As with all factors within your healthcare organization, be transparent — but be honest.
Do you have questions about how to align your healthcare organization’s website with your values? We can help.
Is Your Healthcare Website Consistent With Your Organizational Values?
Want to align your healthcare website with your organizational values? Here’s how CareContent can help.
Inclusion, Equity, And Diversity In Healthcare: Turning Intention Into Action
Diversity has been a buzzword for a while now. In every field, every mission statement, and every strategic plan, common goals of “diversity,” “equity,” and “inclusion” are often found.
And they absolutely should be.
Efforts toward creating more inclusive spaces, more equitable opportunities, and more diverse representation are needed. In healthcare especially, these efforts are not only important, but critical — they can mean the difference between someone receiving life-saving and affirming care, or not. But what happens when these buzzwords are just that — words?
Making Equity, Inclusion & Diversity In Healthcare Actionable
In a study, 85% of physicians agreed that social needs impact health, but only 20% said they were confident in their ability to address the social needs of their patients.
Source: American Academy of Family Physicians
Saying your organization is committed to diversity or accessibility isn’t the same as actually working towards it, and equity efforts require more than just putting some new words in your mission statement.
If you want to be intentional about making your healthcare organization a more inclusive space for patients and providers, there are many ways you can start. Here are three places to review that can help you assess — and if needed redefine — your commitments.
1. On Your Website
Even before the pandemic, between 75 to 80% of patients were using Google search before booking health appointments.
This means that the first place new patients may be getting to know you is not through their experience in your clinic, but through your website. And for returning patients, they may be returning to your website in between clinic visits for information or scheduling.
The landscape of healthcare websites is competitive, and yours has the opportunity to communicate your commitments and values. Patients want to know whether your clinic will be welcoming, accepting, and knowledgeable about their particular needs and life experiences.
Questions To Ask Yourself
- What values are communicated by our website, either explicitly or implicitly?
- Do the people — patients and staff — pictured on our website look like the patients we serve?
- Does our website offer information in multiple languages or in the local English used by our community?
- How easy is it to find information about things like pricing, affordable financing options, or other accessibility programs?
- Is our website ADA compliant, meaning it is accessible to people with disabilities?
Learn how CareContent is helping healthcare organizations overhaul their websites to create more inclusive and dynamic content.
2. In Your Programs
Part of your diversity and equity efforts may already include assistance programs that help your patients overcome obstacles to healthcare. While often including considerations for other determinants of health — like race, economics, and various social factors — it isn’t always simple to determine how successful these programs actually are.
In the same way that you want to be sure you’re getting honest feedback from your team, you also want to seek out honest feedback from your patients.
Knowing if existing programs are or aren’t working can help pave a path — not only for more successful programs — but for more diversity and equity in your organization.
Questions To Ask Yourself
- What are the obstacles to care that our patients are facing?
- How do we know that?
- What assumptions might we be making about what our patients need or want?
- What effort has our organization made recently to hear from patients directly regarding what is working or what could be more effective?
3. On Your Team
Every day, your team brings to life your vision and mission, all while bringing care and comfort to the communities you serve. You want to be sure you have a great group of people, and you want to provide them the tools to be the most successful they can be.
But sometimes our biases — whether they are personal or structural — can impact who gets a seat at the table. This, in turn, can impact the level of care provided by your organization.
Ensuring that your team of healthcare professionals is diverse isn’t just about creating a “look” of diversity. It also isn’t just about organizational success — though recent studies have found that more diverse businesses consistently outperform their less diverse competitors.
With a wider range of experiences, your healthcare team can provide more personal, informed, inclusive, and — simply put — better care to your patients.
Questions To Ask Yourself
- Who is on our board? Do they reflect the community we serve?
- Do the medical practitioners at our clinic speak the languages spoken by our patients?
- How are we soliciting honest feedback from our team?
- Does our team feel comfortable and safe discussing the challenges they may be facing in the workplace, like microaggressions or sexual harassment?
- What hiring practices or internal biases might be impacting who is hired at our organization?
You probably don’t have the answers to all of these questions. That’s okay.
Diversity, inclusion, and equity efforts must constantly be changing and improving — the work will always be ongoing. Asking yourself or your team some of these questions means you have an opportunity to look critically at the way your organization is operating and how that work can improve.
Don’t just assume you know all the answers, and don’t assume that your answers are reflective of the other people on your team or in your community. Diversity work isn’t something that can be done alone — it is stronger when we do it together.
If you’re interested in how we can help you meet your organization’s content needs, we’d love to work with you. Contact CareContent.
Diversity In The Workplace Matters—Especially In Healthcare Marketing
How do I feel about diversity? Simple: I think it’s critical for any healthcare marketing team that is responsible for communicating to consumer audiences.
This may sound like a sweeping statement, but there’s a reason for it. You don’t want to have any blind spots in what you communicate.
This means you need people looking at whatever you’re communicating—whether it’s website content, social media content, etc.—from all angles. This is especially important in the first stage of content development, which is generating ideas for a wide range of audiences.
It comes down to this: If you want to have a rich pool of ideas to appeal to a tapestry of target markets, you need people from all different types of backgrounds.
How Do You Define Diversity In The Workplace?
I think of diversity in several ways. There is the obvious way, which is cultural or ethnic diversity. Our cultures contribute to our worldviews, our beliefs, and our perception of reality.
In this industry, you don’t want to surround yourself with a bunch of carbon copies. That’s what creates the blind spots. The result? You could end up saying something ridiculous. It’s a simple matter to have someone on your team who says, “No, that will never fly with (Target Market A) because (X, Y, Z).”
It comes down to breaking outside your comfort zone, in two key ways: Surround yourself with people who are not like you, and invite them to challenge you.
This means being mature enough to have conversations with people who don’t think the way you do—and being mature enough to listen, even to viewpoints you disagree with.
This ability to listen and be listened to boosts your strength as a team, and it can make the ideas, products, and services you offer that much better.
Building A Diverse Healthcare Marketing Team
I love being around people who are not like me. And I love that our team is diverse in a lot of different ways: our political beliefs, our cultural backgrounds, our economic backgrounds, our ages.
And we don’t have to hold back or suppress our beliefs in the office just because we’re different.
This gives us agility in how we approach our work. When we approach clients with ideas and content strategies, they often comment on how they would never have thought to approach it the way we did—and that’s a good thing.
I also think of diversity in terms of our career backgrounds. I had one job for a year before starting CareContent. Most of my work background consisted of my going to school and traveling. And that has a huge bearing on how I approach our team and the work we do.
Nicole and Jennifer come from buttoned-up, corporate backgrounds. Sammi’s passion is theater—acting and singing. Ros’s gift is creative writing. Linyi might as well be a professor.
All of that makes for a nice range of high notes we can strike—different ways we can pull together ideas and present them in a unique way. Video, infographics, animation, podcasts, compelling patient narratives—all of this and more is part of our creative “mix.”
And despite—or maybe because of—our different backgrounds, we all somehow ended up interested in healthcare.
No matter what kind of cultural background you come from, no matter what your ethnicity is, no matter what your socioeconomic status is—at some point, you are going to encounter the healthcare system.
Everyone on our team has had experiences with healthcare—and that’s why we’re here. We decided we wanted to help our clients improve the healthcare experience for everyone.
We are committed to doing our part, and using our talents and gifts as communicators to make healthcare a little bit better by creating great content for our clients. Contact us to find out how we can help you meet your healthcare marketing goals.