Powerful Advice on Three Ways to Address Health Equity and Access to Care Needs

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Organizations across the country are re-evaluating their approaches to diversity and inclusion in the hopes of creating experiences that are fair, equitable and welcoming for everyone. Recently, the NRC Health Collective, a group of healthcare leaders, met to discuss their organizations’ diversity, equity and inclusion work and found that:

  • 90% have roles dedicated to this work
  • 76% have a clear path and goal to expand this aspect of their organizations
  • 50% reported having the resources they need

Here are three successful methods NRC Health Collective learned to enhance a patient’s or employee’s journey.

1. Collect Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Feedback to Build Goals Enabling a Deeper Understanding

What is critical is to achieve unity between diversity, equity and inclusion goals and other goals within the organization, and to allow those channels to fuel strategic growth.

“Our industry needs to make it easier for healthcare leaders to know where to start gaining insight on complex issues around diversity and inclusion,” says NRC Health Chief Growth Officer Helen Hrdy. “The best place to start is with a comprehensive understanding of consumers. We must empathize with consumers to learn how to create a more inclusive experience for them. Healthcare organizations also need to consider that 99 percent of a patient’s life happens outside the hospital care setting—so inquire about those narratives. To do so can have a profound impact on a sense of understanding while helping you deliver outcomes from your strategic goals.”

Using natural language processing (NLP) technology, NRC Health currently captures and tags dozens of keywords/phrases that bring greater context and specificity to how patients and families are treated. Today, an organization can use NLP to assess aspects of diversity and inclusion through relevant dimensions and phrases in its patients’ and families’ own words.

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2. Use Feedback to Fuel Patient and Employee Engagement

One leader discussed running an extensive health system with 30,000 to 40,000 employees with different opinions: it can be complex, requiring significant shifts to get everyone on board. 

“Use core survey questions to see how different demographic groups are treated,” suggests Ryan Donohue, a thought-leader in healthcare consumerism and a consumerism solutions expert at NRC Health. “Questions like, ‘Did you feel respected?’ or Did you feel listened to?’ will be incredibly revealing.” 

For instance, do providers with a non-English first language earn higher satisfaction scores among patients born outside the United States? Do women of color give higher NPS ratings to white male providers, or to providers who more closely resemble them in appearance? Answering questions like these can help organizations restructure care delivery and make each patient feel at ease.

Finally, it can be substantially valuable to examine your existing patient, resident and family survey data via verified consumer-experience reviews such as Transparency, which scans and aggregates 40 third-party star ratings and publishes ratings on your website. 

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3. Ensure That You’re Collecting the Right Quantity and Quality of Feedback
Modernizing survey-collection methods is paramount to ensuring that healthcare leaders receive the correct quantity and quality of feedback from their patient populations. It is wise to look at the social determinants of health related to diversity and inclusion to explain relationships between environmental conditions and individual health.

NRC Health recently worked with a not-for-profit health system with more than 20 hospitals and 500 sites of care. Previously, the health system found that paper-based surveys had a low response rate overall, and the larger their hospital system grew, the lower its response rate was. As the system moved into larger urban hospitals in more diverse sections of cities, response rates fell the lowest.

Within 12 weeks of implementing Real-time Feedback for inpatient care, they received 240% more responses than usual in just 12 weeks. This feedback allowed the health system to improve communications and outcomes with diverse populations. Its leaders also noted that hearing more voices from African-American and Hispanic patients was helpful.

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Moving from 30 questions down to 10 and using more modern methods of collecting feedback—such as email, text or phone call—allowed this health system to gain feedback more quickly from their entire patient population. This, in turn, made it possible for them to make operational improvements as appropriate and identify gaps that needed to be resolved for diverse populations. Their providers and clinicians now also have data to explore to help them better understand how to treat their patients better.

Hrdy says that for health systems that are ready to listen, it’s time to increase trust among minority populations—populations with historically high mistrust of medical establishments.

“Using these three methods, you can increase trust and communication with your patients,” she says. “It just needs to be the right kind of communication, in a voice your employees and patients understand.” 

Catch the recent “Explore Diversity and Inclusion within Experience Feedback” webinar 

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