Tips to Ensure Equitable and Quality Health Care

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Numerous studies affirm that implicit or unconscious bias impacts our relationships with our caregivers, the quality of our communication, and the diagnoses and treatments we receive. We know that most health care providers truly want the best for their patients, but without intentional effort, providers may be unconsciously short-changing their patients…and patients may also be complicit in risking their own outcomes. We need to look at ourselves and identify effective ways to challenge our own biases so that we provide and receive the best possible health care.

Here are a few recommendations that appear repeatedly in the literature. (Ryn, Blair, Fitzgerald)

Practice perspective taking — how might the other person feel? What might they be thinking?

  • Remember that we are all human and all individuals.
  • Providers need to see their patients as individuals.
  • Patients need to recognize that their providers are human and imperfect.

Develop empathy – listen to the feelings behind the words, observe non-verbal cues – and then address what you see and hear.

Increase partnership building – see the provider-patient relationship as a partnership.

  • Counter stereotypes.
  • Decrease negative stereotypical cues and seek out and attend to information and images that are contrary to the stereotypes.
  • Increase positive interactions with people of difference.

Manage stress levels and cognitive load – when we are overloaded and in high stress situations, we revert back to stereotypes to reduce mental demand.

For more about unconscious bias and healthcare disparities, check out Rory Gilbert’s recent blog HERE.