What are your health equity plans? Get some inspiration with 4 health equity topics that are priorities at HCP.
It’s our 6th anniversary and we are taking this opportunity to do a little looking back and a little looking forward. I don’t know what your Health Equity plans are, but if you need some inspiration, I’m going to tell you about ours. Hi everybody, this is 10 Minutes to Better Patient Communication from Health Communication Partners.
And I want to thank you, because really without you, I couldn’t have done this show. This community of like-minded practitioners is why the show exists. You are what keeps it going: you, the rock stars who get it. Who get the connections between communication and equity and learning. Who are reflective. And I also want to give a shout out to my brother the Audio Wizard behind the great sound of this show, ‘cuz I literally couldn’t do it without him either! And our dear friend, Alexis Rounds, and the gorgeous sounds that she has added to this show.
I like thinking about how like the topics of the show have evolved as well. Because so much has changed in the space that the show occupies. Like ideas have caught on, stuff that was kind of niche is now being more openly talked about, especially around equity. Conversations that used to be very hard to have, are now maybe less hard to have? And I am here for it! Because there was no guarantee this was going to happen. The work we’re doing is tough work. It’s next level. But we can do it, we are doing it, we’re in this together.
So I thought I would give you a glimpse into what’s going on here and what our priorities are going forward for Health Equity, in case you need some inspiration. Because I’m going to report out to some of what I’ve been hearing and seeing in the kind of cross-sector work that I do.
Systems-level efforts are key
First on this list is systems level efforts for Equity as being key. I’ve been to a couple events recently from different organizations, and different people and audiences, but it take away that they’ve had in common is this: connect Equity goals to your strategic plan. Now this makes sense. We get the moral and ethical imperative of equity work. And we also know there’s a business case to be made. So we need to keep making that case. And one of the ways of doing that is to tie it to your strategic plan.
We also want to keep our eye on leadership here, because right now that’s important. If you’re in healthcare you’ve noticed that some hospitals have added Equity Officer positions. It’s a minority of hospitals right now, but according to one study that number is expected to rise. Corporate has taken a hit over 2023 in terms of the DEI officers, but we’re watching that space.
Because I can say across sectors, the organizational goal I’m hearing again and again, the one thing we’re all aiming for whoever you are when it comes to equity, is making Equity part of business as usual. Like sometimes I’ll hear we want to incorporate Equity into the fabric of our operations. Or we want to embed Health Equity across all of our lines of business.
This is systems-level thinking. And at least from my perspective, it’s going to take systems-level work, as well as individual-level work. There are ways to do this. There are ways to connect Equity goes to your strategic plan. And based on like the space that we’re in, the communication space, one way that we’re helping organizations is thinking about communication as a strategic lever. ‘Cuz whatever your action plan is to embed Health Equity into your line of work, communication is involved. So I’ll invite you to think about that, too.
Equity and Quality
All right the second one equity and quality. Now tying Equity to Quality is not a new idea. In the health sector, institutions have been trying to address the quality gap for years. I was recently at a National Academy’s workshop and some of the presenters there were talking about how the connections between equity and quality have gotten more attention lately because of policy. NCQA accreditation standards, The Joint Commission’s new standards, which I’ve talked about, CMS adopting the hospital commitment to Health Equity measure. So this large-scale attention and action is new, although the core concept is not.
So there are some challenges to be expected. A recent study on equity and Healthcare quality measurement, which I’ll link to, says “most existing quality measurement efforts do not explicitly Target or incentivize Health Equity despite Equity being a key component of quality.” So again this is evolving, and we’re going to keep monitoring this space.
In the meantime, if your quality improvement efforts include patient education, we can help. We have a course, Equitable Patient Education, and giving it to your team is a specific tangible action you can take part of as part of your action plan.
Equity and the Workplace
Okay number three, equity and the workplace. Now I’ve written about this and you’ve heard me podcast about this a little bit in the past. I did an episode on the Surgeon General’s Workplace Wellness Framework.
But right now, these days, I am thinking about culture.
No one’s got Illusions about how hard it is to change organizational culture. The study on Chief Equity Officers found that changing the culture was one of the items that the least amount of people felt well prepared to do. So this has been on our radar, and you know it if you’ve heard the show before. And if you haven’t, I’ll tell you one thing for sure is that communication is part of culture in many ways. So when we want to create a culture of inclusion that works for all of us, and not just for some of us, you can bet communication is involved.
A few years ago when people found out that I was helping health professionals communicate better with patients from different social and cultural backgrounds, they started asking, “Can you help us with this in our workplace culture?” And hospitals are workplaces too. So this is one topic at HCP we’ve been involved with in different ways over the years. And it shows no signs of slowing, because any organization that wants to be competitive wants to cultivate an equitable workplace culture, and keep their people. So if you’d like help with this, let me know. You can message me on linked or visit Health Communication Partners and hit contact.
Equity and Research
And number four is research. I was talking recently with a colleague from grad school, and she said, “We never really take our researcher hats off.” So yeah, I’ve still got my researcher hat on, ‘cuz I’ve been researching the connections between equity and communication for decades. And that includes equity within research. Now, many people are looking at this from many different perspectives. Folks have been asking, what can we do to change inequities in research, who does research, how it gets funded, where it gets published. And all of this is huge, because these are not surface things, right? These are changing mindsets. We’re confronting deep history. We’re trying to understand systematic issues in research. I have a prior episode on who gets to do Health equity research.
It’s been a while since I’ve talked about my Critical Health Stance. But basically, working for Equity means we’ve got to work in ways that are Equitable. We’ve got to use tools, concepts, discourses that are also grounded in equity. The reflective piece is really key here. The collaborative piece is really key here. So, this is how I work in general, so I am excited about this.
Because I think research, and equity in research on communication, is an area where innovation is possible. And we’ve got to be careful as researchers, methodologically, whenever we’re working across disciplines, across paradigms. Because we need to conduct the highest quality research possible, in order to advance equity.
Well those are four of our priorities at Health Communication Partners. I would love to hear about yours. Go ahead and find me on LinkedIn, that’s more or less where I’m hanging out these days. And say happy birthday, let me know what you’re working on. And of course if you’ve got questions about what I’ve been sharing, let me know. This has been 10 minutes to Better Patient Communication from Health Communication Partners. It’s our sixth anniversary! Audio engineering and music by Joe Liebel. Additional music by Alexis Rounds.