Lack of Diversity Among Healthcare Providers Impacts Healthcare Disparities
April 7, 2017 | Blog Post
“The lack of diverse and culturally competent healthcare providers in the U.S. may adversely impact the efficacy and frequency with which this care is administered."
The U.S. faces great changes in the 21st century. High levels of immigration from Asia, Central, and South America have dramatically shifted U.S. demographics.
"According to the U.S. Census survey, the U.S. may be a majority non-White nation by as early as 2043."
By 2060, the relative percentage of non-Hispanic Whites in the population is expected to decrease to just 43% from 63% in 2010, whereas the relative percentage of Hispanics will nearly double, from 17% in 2010 to a predicted 32% (i). Despite the rapidly growing minority populations within the U.S., there remain relatively few minority healthcare providers, such as nurses, physicians, and technicians.
"For example, as of 2013, 70% of physicians identified as White, while only 6.4% identified as Hispanic and 5.9% as African American (ii)."
The lack of diverse and culturally competent healthcare providers may adversely impact the efficacy and frequency with which this care is administered. A patient’s language and culture dictate how they express and explain their symptoms, as well as the degree to which they are comfortable seeking medical assistance. Patients and providers who understand one another’s core principles – especially with regards to medicine – and can communicate effectively have a better chance of achieving a better patient outcome (iii). When asked the question, “do you think that African American and Hispanic patients receive a lower quality of care, the same quality of care, or a better quality of care than White patients?”, A majority of African American patients answered lower, along with around 40% of Hispanic patients (iv). Even 25% of White patients felt that they received a higher quality of care than their minority counterparts (iv). Perhaps even more convincingly, as early as 2005, over 75% of physicians felt that minorities were receiving a lower level of care than White patients, and that figure has been steadily rising (iv). This is an alarming trend. While these numbers do not necessarily indicate a systemic discrimination within the healthcare industry, it may show a mistrust and lack of communication between minority patients and the mostly White male-dominated healthcare industry.
This mistrust and miscommunication can manifest itself in other ways, such as insurance coverage.
"While Hispanic people make up a mere 17% of the U.S. population, they represent 33% of all uninsured Americans (iv)."
Lack of insurance coverage, borne of distrust for a largely White-dominated medical system only makes access to adequate care more difficult for minorities. While the solutions to such endemic issues cannot be solved overnight, the first steps can be taken to rebuild trust between the healthcare industry and minorities, beginning with making provider diversity a priority to bridge the many cultural gaps spanning this great melting pot of a nation.
On June 22, 2016, the Center for Healthcare Innovation will be further exploring these issues at the 6th annual Diversity, Inclusion & Life Sciences Symposium, which 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. Please visit chisite.org/education/diversity-symposium/ for more information.
CEO & Co-Founder at CHI
i. U.S. Population Projections: 2012-2060 | George Washington University https://www.gwu.edu/~forcpgm/Ortman.pdf
ii. Diversity in the Physician Workforce: Facts and Figures 2014 | AAMC http://aamcdiversityfactsandfigures.org/section-ii-current-status-of-us-physician-workforce/#fig16
iii. Missing Persons: Minorities in the Health Professions | Sullivan Commission on Diversity in the Workforce, pgs. 13-27 http://health-equity.pitt.edu/40/1/Sullivan_Final_Report_000.pdf
iV. Eliminating Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Healthcare: What are the Options? | The Henry J. Kaiser Foundation http://kff.org/disparities-policy/issue-brief/eliminating-racialethnic-disparities-in-health-care-what/
Joseph Gaspero is the CEO and Co-Founder of CHI. He is a healthcare executive, strategist, and researcher. He co-founded CHI in 2009 to be an independent, objective, and interdisciplinary research and education institute for healthcare. Joseph leads CHI’s research and education initiatives focusing on including patient-driven healthcare, patient engagement, clinical trials, drug pricing, and other pressing healthcare issues. He sets and executes CHI’s strategy, devises marketing tactics, leads fundraising efforts, and manages CHI’s Management team. Joseph is passionate and committed to making healthcare and our world a better place. His leadership stems from a wide array of experiences, including founding and operating several non-profit and for-profit organizations, serving in the U.S. Air Force in support of 2 foreign wars, and deriving expertise from time spent in industries such as healthcare, financial services, and marketing. Joseph’s skills include strategy, management, entrepreneurship, healthcare, clinical trials, diversity & inclusion, life sciences, research, marketing, and finance. He has lived in six countries, traveled to over 30 more, and speaks 3 languages, all which help him view business strategy through the prism of a global, interconnected 21st century. Joseph has a B.S. in Finance from the University of Illinois at Chicago. When he’s not immersed in his work at CHI, he spends his time snowboarding backcountry, skydiving, mountain biking, volunteering, engaging in MMA, and rock climbing.