The race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation of healthcare providers are, oftentimes, not a big deal to most patients. After all, when they visit a hospital, clinic, or pharmacy, their priority is to have their healthcare needs taken care of as promptly as possible. However, diversity in healthcare, or a lack of it, can make certain populations disinclined to seek the help they need.
Studies have established that declining life expectancy among disadvantaged populations can be correlated to their lack of representation in the healthcare system.
According to Dr. Douglas Garland, Jr., a health scientist and board member for the Association of Black Health Professionals, “Boosting the diversity of providers in the U.S. health care [sic] industry could be a tool for bridging the gap from shortest to longest life spans.”
Ideally, a clinician that looks like the patient (in terms of race or ethnicity, for example) should not be a prerequisite, adds Garland. In reality, however, mistrust of the healthcare system presumably due to lack of diversity discourage some patients from accessing medical services, except when there is a medical emergency. Garland says, “We believe that workforce diversity is one of the many tools that can help them re-engage, particularly the frequency they engage with the health care system at the appropriate time – preventively as opposed to waiting until the last minute.” (Ibid.)
It’s not just about the physical resemblance between the provider and patient that can help improve healthcare engagement. A provider that belongs to the same community as the patient, the LGBTQ community or a church community, for example, will also be able to better relate with the patient and, therefore, engender trust and provide better assistance.
A diversity of perspective and experience also counts for a lot. This means that healthcare providers should also have an “extra skill set” gained from knowledge about other cultures and awareness of how certain populations live their lives.
At HOMA Family Medicine, our top priority is to provide the best possible care to all our patients, regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, faith, or socioeconomic status. HOMA Family Medicine does not only provide a diverse range of medical services, but is also well-equipped to serve a diverse range of populations. Our healthcare team takes the “family” aspect of family medicine to heart. Book an appointment with any of our primary care physicians and we’ll take care of your needs.