Diversity is a key word in the healthcare system. It can be defined as the blending of different backgrounds, with representation across gender, race/ethnicity, generation, and sexual orientation. Diversity is undeniably one of the most important topics in today’s society. In fact, according to an article published in Becker’s Hospital Review, millennials are the most diverse generation in the U.S. Population . This change has brought the demand for a better quality of life across every social aspect, such as healthcare.
Despite the focus on relatively high economic factors in our healthcare system, many issues on the social spectrum remain unaddressed. One of the issues that our healthcare system faces today is the lack of representation for our ever-growing, diverse, population. As stated in an article published in Modern Healthcare, the lack of true diversity among leaders in this industry has stayed consistent. How consistent? Well, according to Kevin E. Lofton, CEO of Englewood, Colorado-based Catholic Health Initiatives, this has been an issue since he started his career back in 1978. The healthcare industry has done a poor job of adjusting to the rapid demographic changes in recent years.
According to a survey conducted in 2013 by the American Hospital Association’s Institute for Diversity, minority representation on healthcare boards across the nation stood at 14 percent . Furthermore, the same survey reported that minorities represented 31 percent of patients nationally. This is an issue that needs to change in the next couple of years. In an article published by David Ferguson, he mentions that a lack of diverse leadership in the healthcare industry can present a cultural gulf that must be overcome if the industry plans on switching to patient-centered care. Emphasizing the crucial importance of diversity is critical if we ever hope to have an adequate health care system that is inclusive and represents the diverse set of people living in this nation.
Change must start at the top of the executive pyramid. Why? Well, those at the top are the ones with the power to make decisions. In addition, increasing the number of physicians of color can foster higher levels of patient satisfaction among underrepresented groups in the community. Most importantly, it is key to let minority groups know that the resources are there for them to take initiative. This can only work if both healthcare providers and patients work together to bring much-needed change to a system as sophisticated as the healthcare industry.
We must look at different initiatives that in the long-term can foster a system where the gap between healthcare inequality is minimal or non-existent. These initiatives must produce a system that is not only inclusive but effective as well. Shedding light on this issue is a must among healthcare leaders since they become the voice of the underrepresented populations. In the end, it is important to push for change and create something meaningful in an industry where change is long overdue.
To further explore these diversity trends, CHI is organizing our 7th annual Diversity, Inclusion, & Life Sciences Symposium on 6/15/17 in Chicago. The Symposium is the leading annual, collaborative event for life sciences and healthcare executives, physicians, HR professionals, clinical trial professionals and patients, entrepreneurs, patient groups, researchers, academics, and diversity and inclusion advocates to discuss diversity and inclusion in healthcare. The symposium focuses on the latest trends, challenges, opportunities, and best practices for implementing strategies and tactics to make these industries more diverse and inclusive, as well as understand how to better serve diverse patient groups. Attendees will learn the newest insights and ideas, discuss practical solutions, and meet new industry and marketplace colleagues. See a video at http://www.snip.ly/fxln8. This year’s symposium will include topics such as the role of coaching and mentoring in executive success, diversity and inclusion in clinical trials and research, and expanding definitions of diversity. Please visit http://chisite.org/dilss/ for more info or to register. Register before 5/13 to receive early registration discount.
References Jayanthi A. The new look of diversity in healthcare: Where we are and where we’re headed. Becker’s Hospital Review. http://www.beckershospitalreview.com/hospital-management-administration/the-new-look-of-diversity-in-healthcare-where-we-are-and-where-we-re-headed.html. Accessed January 25, 2017.
 Dorning J. The U.S. Health Care System: An International Perspective. Department For Professional Employees. http://dpeaflcio.org/programs-publications/issue-fact-sheets/the-u-s-health-care-system-an-international-perspective/#_edn24. Accessed January 25, 2017.
 Lofton K. Need for more diversity in healthcare leadership represents a moral and business imperative. Modern Healthcare. http://www.modernhealthcare.com/article/20161119/MAGAZINE/311199945. Accessed January 25, 2017.
 Diversity and Disparities. Diversity Connection. http://www.diversityconnection.org/diversityconnection/leadership-conferences/diversity_disparities_Benchmark_study_hospitals_2013.pdf. Accessed January 25, 2017.
 Ferguson D. Diversity in healthcare leadership drives better patient outcomes and community connection. Fierce Healthcare. http://www.fiercehealthcare.com/healthcare/diversity-healthcare-leadership-drives-better-patient-outcomes-and-community-connection. Accessed January 25, 2017.
 King M. The importance of cultural diversity in healthcare | Brainwaves. The University of Vermont. https://learn.uvm.edu/blog-health/cultural-diversity-in-healthcare. Accessed January 25, 2017.