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How Increased Diversity Will Change Business of Health Care

Providers must increase cultural competency

Major social and cultural demographic shifts in the U.S. are transforming the business side of health care, according to a report in Forbes.

The changes are driven by two major population chnages in the industry. First, the percentage of minority groups with insurance coverage is rapidly increasing because of the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, writes Glenn Llopis, a business strategist. Second, the ratio of culturally competent providers is falling, and experts are calling for medical education to cover the subject.

According to Llopis, even when health care executives realize that the demographic shift in the U.S. must be addressed and can no longer be ignored, they still face a widening gap of intellectual capital and strategic know-how to:

  • Best serve their rapidly growing minority patient populations
  • Recruit a more diverse workforce to serve these patients
  • Elevate a greater diversity of executives into the boardroom
  • Effectively engage more minorities in clinical research trials
  • Improve community outreach and tailor marketing efforts
  • Educate diverse communities about self-advocacy and preventative care
  • Identify the right external partnerships and resources to strengthen ecosystems

As health care transitions to a patient-centered model, providers have the opportunity to “change the business of health care to a relationship-based profession where we grow together with our patients from beginning to end of life,” Joseph Alvarnas, MD, director of medical quality at the City of Hope National Medical Center, told Llopis. “That’s the idealized version of medicine.”

Patients want access to culturally competent providers who can speak to them on their level and from an understanding of their values, Alvarnas said, but reconciling that with increased consolidation and systematization is complex and sometimes contradictory.

Recruitment takes cultural competency as well, according to the column. For instance, Hispanic employees tend to be family-oriented, said Angela Patterson, vice president and chief nursing officer at CVS Health, so the recruitment process must factor in corporate policies regarding paid leave and extended families.

Providers must also transition from a doctor–patient relationship based on authority to one in which doctors actively listen to patients’ needs and base their advice on what they learn, according to Beatriz Rojas, senior director of multicultural marketing at Kaiser Permanente.

Sources: FierceHealthcare; July 15, 2015; and Forbes; July 13, 2015.


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