Driving Diversity in Healthcare: Strategies for Equity and Inclusion

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Healthcare organizations must prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace today. Doing so benefits employees and patients in many ways. Research shows diversity, equity, and inclusion impact health outcomes and a patient’s quality of life. How do they do so?

DEI initiatives ensure patients and employees feel understood, regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, culture, and other defining characteristics. With these initiatives in place, workers have what they need to complete their tasks. Patients have access to treatment settings that use best practices, and all have a voice in the treatment experience. While DEI goals in the workplace vary by organization, they have these three elements in common.

Where Healthcare Stands Today

According to the 2023 State of Healthcare Training and Staff Development Report, approximately 25 percent of healthcare organizations today fail to make DEI a priority. That number dropped from 39 percent two years prior but is still too high. Organizations that prioritize DEI initiatives have workers who feel as if they belong and are valued by the organization. These organizations provide culturally competent, patient-centered care. This environment attracts top talent and encourages them to stay. Low morale and burnout aren’t of great concern within these companies.

Implementing Strategies for Equity and Inclusion

Organizations must know where they are to determine where they need to go. Patient and employee surveys are one way to determine an organization’s current status regarding DEI. Other tools should not be overlooked, however.

An organization must determine how it defines success in this area to determine which tools to use. Choose two or three factors that can be monitored for an extended period. Using the information gathered, the organization can set measurable goals and implement interventions to help it reach them. Routine checks are needed to ensure the organization remains on track. If any problems are seen, course corrections can be made.

Every person in the organization must be committed to DEI initiatives. If one person isn’t on board, the entire process can be undermined. Marketing visuals are one area that might be overlooked when developing and implementing DEI strategies, so it is essential to include all departments in the process.

Leaders must also be committed to the process for the best results. They set the tone for others within the organization. However, they also need to obtain feedback from the employees affected by these initiatives. Many organizations select a patient community representative to sit on the board, as this representative provides valuable input to the leadership team.

Educating employees on DEI initiatives is also essential to the process. Cultural competency training is one area where many organizations are lacking. However, not any instructor will do. Choose a qualified individual without implicit bias for the best outcomes.

Training Topics

Organizations often struggle to know which training is needed. Various topics might be covered during these sessions. A few to consider include America’s changing populations, health disparities across different populations, and confidentiality concerns. The organization might also want to train employees in elements of other cultures, communication skills, and treating patients with disabilities.

Putting DEI into Practice

Healthcare providers are tasked with promoting health equity today. Doing so isn’t easy, as many factors intersect. Each factor can impact a patient’s treatment outcome. For example, experts now believe race should not be used as a risk factor. Navigating the changing healthcare landscape can be challenging, but it must be done.

Hiring diverse individuals is one way to ensure a practice is meeting its DEI goals. These individuals are more than numbers to mark off on the DEI checklist. They bring unique perspectives to the organization that can help practices drive healthcare forward. This is an excellent place to start implementing these strategies.

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