Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in healthcare helps create a safe environment where staff and patients feel seen, heard and understood. It also contributes to a people-first atmosphere where everyone is treated equally. Most of all, it helps ensure every patient receives top-quality care. For example, one study found that Spanish-speaking families who experienced a language barrier during a stay with a hospitalized child were at much greater risk for serious medical events. DEI practices, like having access to translators who are fluent in common languages spoken where your organization is based, may help ensure better patient outcomes. We offer ideas to help your healthcare organization improve its DEI practices.
5 ways to implement DEI in healthcare
- Designate a DEI leader
- Ask for patient feedback
- Identify goals
- Provide DEI training
- Utilize focus groups
1. Designate a DEI leader
Sixty-two percent of people work for organizations that strive to implement DEI. Ninety percent of those organizations use training to reinforce initiatives. When there is a dedicated DEI leader, 57% of employees feel more strongly that DEI initiatives are effective.
A designated leader helps ensure cultural awareness and diverse perspectives stay front and center during important conversations. They can also devote more time to brainstorming better ways to serve patients and make everyone (staff and patients) feel safe and comfortable. A designated leader challenges the status quo by encouraging crucial DEI conversations.
2. Ask for patient feedback
Ask for patient feedback and ensure responses are kept anonymous. Questions like “Did you feel respected?” and “Did you feel your concerns were taken seriously?” can be especially revealing. Filter and analyze responses from multiple demographics to help determine if one group feels better taken care of than another. Doing so can also reveal if providers from similar demographics receive higher or lower satisfaction scores.
Use these insights to discover areas of training that need reinforcement or violations that need to be addressed. Congratulate staff who receive high patient satisfaction scores and great reviews. Reward them with healthcare worker giveaways, like an Indoor Weather Station Clock, tech kit with USB-C charging cable or Surfside Art Glass Award.
3. Identify goals
Focus on realistic goals to achieve over varying time frames—three months, six months, one year, etc. One goal might be to hire a full-time sign language interpreter. Track and measure goals to ensure you’re reaching your targets. Survey staff and patients to discover new goals to work toward. Frontline staff and patients on the receiving end of healthcare are a great source for determining which DEI initiatives are most important.
4. Provide DEI training
Team members say specific DEI training is one of the most important initiatives they want to see at their organization. Common DEI training initiatives include:
- Raising cultural awareness and fostering a sense of belonging
- Explaining unconscious and implicit bias
- Reducing prejudice
- Addressing microaggressions
- Defining diversity, equity and inclusion
- Describing stereotyping
- Teaching how to handle harassment
5. Utilize focus groups
A focus group is small-group discussion between team members. It can provide valuable information about staff’s personal DEI views and experiences, as well as areas that can be improved.
For deeper insights, try a few different formats—for example, facilitate focus-group discussions among staff who share the same role (like nurses) and also among staff who have different roles (like nurses, rehab specialists and dietary staff).
Survey staff to see if people are more comfortable attending virtually or in-person. Assure everyone that focus-group discussions are a safe place to share honest opinions. After each discussion, compile the information into a presentation for leadership. Provide recommendations and actionable steps based on your findings.
DEI in healthcare
With ideas like designating a DEI leader and providing specific DEI training, you can create an even healthier environment for staff and patients with DEI in healthcare.