Health equity exists when individuals have equal opportunities for overall wellbeing. The ability to be healthy is commonly associated with factors such as social position, financial stability, lifestyle, race, age, ethnicity, gender, religion, disability, sexual identity, and culture. Any factors that limit the ability to be healthy can lead to health inequity. Many health inequities can be caused by varying social determinants of health (SDOH). Some examples include: education, housing, neighborhood environment and zoning, access to transportation, employment opportunities, law and the justice systems, and health care and public health systems. Understanding these forces that impact the health and well-being of individuals is important to getting to the root of disparities. Cultural behaviors and differences are some components that can be overlooked when taking a look at health equity.
Data shows that Hispanic adults are less likely than all U.S. adults to say they have seen a health care provider within the last year. Hispanics also have the highest uninsured rates of any racial or ethnic group within the United States. When racial and ethnic minorities receive medical care, reports of lower levels of medical adherence and treatment participation were noted along with lower levels of satisfaction. Several reasons behind this medical avoidance in the Hispanic community includes: stress, financial barriers, not understanding the process of getting medical care, fear of stigmas on U.S legal status, language barriers, fear of speaking up, and lack of personal patient-doctor relationships. Hispanic/Latinos are particularly sensitive to lack of personalized care. Many report feeling uncomfortable during visits because of their provider’s inability to take the time to relate to them as individuals. A lack of personal and cultural connections can make providers seem untrustworthy, which deters Hispanics from scheduling routine appointments. Taking intentional measures towards health equity by raising cultural awareness is a huge step toward breaking barriers. Read our case study about how CQ fluency develops cultural insights by customizing multicultural marketing content to improve certain health behaviors.
health equity accreditation
Investing in resources to achieve equitable health care is a good place to start your health equity journey. The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) collects data that can help an organization create and offer language services and provider networks mindful of individuals’ cultural and linguistic needs; all of which identifies opportunities to reduce health equities and improve care. Some NCQA Standards and Guidelines for Health Equity Accreditation to consider include:
Hiring staff with diverse backgrounds and providing training programs that increase cultural awareness. Promoting Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) among staff.
Race/Ethnicity, Language, Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Data
Collect information to help provide culturally and linguistically appropriate services. NCQA can review an organization’s documented process for assessing the race/ethnicity of individuals, and reviews reports or materials demonstrating the data collection.
Access and Availability of Language Services
Communicate effectively with individuals by providing materials and services in the appropriate languages. Use a competent interpreter or bilingual services to communicate with individuals who need to communicate in a language other than English.
Practitioner Network Cultural Responsiveness
Maintain a practitioner network that is capable of serving cultural and linguistic needs of diverse members. Use information about the demographic profile of membership and practitioner network to identify potential unmet need, and assesses the network’s ability to deliver culturally appropriate care to members.
Continually improve care and service to meet the needs of multicultural populations. Begin your process by following National CLAS Standards, which are a set of 15 action steps intended to advance health equity, improve quality, and help eliminate health care disparities by providing a blueprint for individuals and health and health care organizations to implement culturally and linguistically appropriate services.
Reducing Health Care Disparities
Use race/ethnicity, language, gender identity and/or sexual orientation data to assess existing disparities and to focus improvement efforts toward improving culturally and linguistically appropriate services and decreasing health care disparities.
working with CQ fluency
Building an internal culture that supports the organization’s external health equity work is key to success. Consult with CQ fluency to address the cultural nuances for your actionable framework for improving health equity. This includes but is not limited to your language strategy, effectively promoting the cause with internal and external stakeholders and assessing/developing partnerships to support this mission of improving lives across a range of therapeutic areas. CQ fluency can also assist your health equity journey by reviewing your Health Equity Accreditation plan and making sure that it fits your DEI goals.