Friday Five – Culturally Competent Care Delivery and Health Disparities
This week’s Friday five is brought to us by Equality Health (@equalityhealth), a developer of high-performing value-based physician networks uniquely equipped to address the needs of diverse and historically underserved populations, employs a Medicaid-first care model focused on helping independent primary care practices (PCPs) be successful in value-based care. According to Dr. Sherri Onyiego, Medical Director for Equality Health in Texas, culturally competent care delivery is a crucial component to reducing health disparities, citing five tactics for success.
Address Social Determinants of Health (SDoH)
The World Health Organization defines SDoH as “the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, and age,” which are “shaped by the distribution of money, power, and resources at global, national, and local levels.” SDoH covers access to secure housing, healthy food, and medical care, which all play a role in health outcomes. One’s ZIP code matters.
Practices can address SDoH by thoughtfully surveying patients to understand their challenges, analyzing that data for common trends among various patient populations and working to connect patients with community-based organizations that can help them address those challenges.
Recognize the Difference Between “Health Equity” and “Health Equality”
Health equality means everyone receives the same standard of care, such as prescribing the same treatment to two patients with hypertension. But those two patients that receive the same treatment may experience entirely different outcomes.
Health equity is the state in which everyone has opportunity to attain their highest level of health. Health equity means accounting for where each patient is in their own health journey, addressing cultural and SDoH factors, and providing individualized care aimed at bringing both patients with hypertension to the same level of health.
Mind Your Language
It’s important to communicate with patients in their preferred language and to ensure clinicians have access to Cultural Linguistic Appropriate Services such as language assistance/interpretation services. In addition, it’s important to recognize different cultural groups may have different preferences for how they absorb information – including medical details. Recognizing and incorporating cultural differences into care delivery can greatly improve clinician communication.
When patients feel that their cultural beliefs and values are recognized, understood, and respected, this drives a solid provider-patient rapport and a trusted relationship, leading to enhanced patient engagement, return visits when needed, and better health outcomes.
Adherence to Care Plan
Since health equity is about individuals attaining their highest level of health, then individual care plans are paramount. When distinct cultural sensitivities or preferences are infused into medical care delivery, patients are more likely to adhere to and follow-through on a provider’s recommended care plan, which can lead to better health outcomes.
The provider’s job is to find ways to go beyond checking the boxes in patient encounters. A culturally competent care approach can help reduce health disparities.
About Equality Health
Equality Health is revolutionizing how care is delivered by establishing critical linkages with payers, providers, members and community resources. The company offers a technology-enabled primary care platform that leverages proven capabilities in value-based payment models to transform healthcare for diverse and often marginalized populations. Equality Health’s care model is Medicaid-first in design, partnering with over 3,200 PCPs and 700,000 lives across AZ, TX and TN.