The main goal of every hospital, clinic, and health care provider is to provide unmatched, quality care. In our recent roundtable discussion, faculty member Dr. Michael Weaver stated, “you can’t provide quality care unless you provide equitable care, where every patient has an opportunity to achieve their full health potential.”
To expand on his point, Dr. Weaver said, “Whether we want to be or not, we [physicians] are leaders. We have to be cognizant of the shadow and influence we are placing on others and how that may direct how they act.”
In our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion program, Dr. Weaver provides these three tips to start any physician on the path to health equity:
- Make providing equitable care every team member’s responsibility. All members of the care team should be required to have cultural and unconscious bias training. To be effective, this should not be a one-and-done type of program. Just like quality initiatives, making progress on equity requires ongoing awareness and development efforts across organizations.
- Use the plentiful resources available. For example, The American Hospital Association provides data and training on health care disparities, implicit bias, diversity, and inclusion.
- Assess your patient flow as a team and create a checklist to identify opportunities to improve equitable care delivery. The American Academy Of Family Physicians provides some insightful questions you can use for an informal assessment to help identify and document social determinants of health and assure what patients see and experience respects who they are. Take a look at your care site and ask, What do patients see before they are called into the exam room? What do they see before meeting the clinician inside the exam room? What questions are they asked when vital signs are measured? How are we collecting social determinant information, and how do clinicians address social determinants of health during the encounter? Have we formulated response and community resources available based on social determinant collection and evaluation?
Bringing equity to the forefront of medicine is a top priority in health care, not just because it’s socially just but also because it enables patients in our care to help achieve their best health. How have you been an advocate for care equity in your work? Let us know what works best for you in the comments section below or on Linkedin or Twitter.