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How Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives can lead to better Patient Outcomes


Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) is a catchphrase that you may have heard within your organization. But for hospitals and health systems, it takes on a more complex meaning when it comes to meeting the needs of not only the patients, but also the healthcare workers who interact with the patients every day. How can hospitals integrate DEI initiatives within the patient experience and how can that lead to better patient outcomes? It’s all about meeting people where they are and continuing to drive toward better understanding and connection. At Oneview Healthcare, we work with our partner hospitals to integrate with their DEI initiatives, strategies, and priorities.  

Language 
Taking into account the patient’s preferred language may be the most basic element of addressing the patient’s diverse needs.  The comfort level and understanding of the process, decision points and follow-through with medical care is best when it is in the patient’s preferred language. If the healthcare provider knows this and can make reasonable adjustments, patient outcomes could be improved. In one study, “Spanish-speaking patients whose families had a language barrier seem to have a significantly increased risk for serious medical events during pediatric hospitalizations compared with patients whose families do not have a language barrier.”1 Thus for patients, families, and healthcare professionals, speaking the same language becomes key to better patient outcomes. 

Pronouns 
Diversity, equity, and inclusion also includes sexual orientation and unique medical needs that may be present.  Members of the LGBTQ+ community may have more negative patient outcomes due to a lack of understanding from and experience of their healthcare providers. Members of the LGBTQ+ communities often have different health challenges from mainstream populations. Such challenges can include: 

  • Difficulty in discussing sexual health-related issues 
  • Increased rates of homelessness  
  • Unfamiliarity with issues that pertain to the LGBTQ+ communities by their healthcare providers 
  • Failures to be sensitive to gender-neutral terms, gender modification surgeries or procedures  
  • Insensitivity toward patients who engage in sexual activity with multiple partners and/or individuals of the same sex.2   

Using the correct pronouns, understanding and respecting the patient’s gender identity, and asking un-biased, non-cis-centered questions are all ways to be more inclusive and to better connect with patients.  

Employees 
Healthcare workers are the backbone of the industry, so it is especially important to consider diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives within the workforce. Companies are trying to think outside the box with respect to diversity and inclusion. According to SMG’s Diversity, Equity + Inclusion in the Workforce study results, having a specific DEI training was at the top of the list for initiatives that employees would like to see to promote DEI at their company, second only to having focus groups, outreach and creating networks for employees.   

The study goes on to show that when an organization has a dedicated DEI leader, 57% of respondents said that they felt more strongly that steps taken are effective versus 16% of respondents when there was no top executive or group devoted to DEI.3 Specifically, higher levels of nurse engagement lead to better patient outcomes.4 In order to affect better patient outcomes, hospitals may want to not only engage DEI best practices for their patients, but also for their hospital staff. 

For more information on how Oneview Healthcare integrates diversity, equity and inclusion best practices into their Patient Experience interface, click here to request a demo. 

 

[1] Cohen AL, Rivara F, Marcuse EK, McPhillips H, Davis R. Are language barriers associated with serious medical events in hospitalized pediatric patients? Pediatrics. 2005 Sep;116(3):575-9. doi: 10.1542/peds.2005-0521. PMID: 16140695.
[2] Bass B, Nagy H. Cultural Competence in the Care of LGBTQ Patients. [Updated 2021 Oct 9]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK563176/
[3] “Diversity, equity, + inclusion in the workplace | How to align DEI efforts with expectations and drive employee engagement”, SMG, accessed April 16, 2022, https://smg.com/resources/diversity-equity-inclusion-in-the-workplace-how-to-align-dei-efforts-with-expectations-and-drive-employee-engagement/
[4] Brooks Carthon JM, Hatfield L, Plover C, et al. Association of Nurse Engagement and Nurse Staffing on Patient Safety. J Nurs Care Qual. 2019;34(1):40-46. doi:10.1097/NCQ.0000000000000334