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Reducing Racism in Healthcare 2020: Messaging Reform Strategy

by Dr. Carlessia A. Hussein


Mistrust of our healthcare system in America has been a rational response by African Americans that has saved lives. We all must begin with that fact. Four generations of atrocities have occurred without apparent acknowledgement or significant repair by healthcare systems or the healthcare leadership. Generations of mistrust cannot be fast-tracked. The following initiatives constitute a proffered messaging reform strategy:

  • Unconscious bias training made available on-line and on-site

  • Brief history of racial inequities be provided to raise awareness

  • Leadership makes statements acknowledging the problem/solution

  • Place signs throughout institutions that communicate inclusion

  • Rank and file staff are educated and given guidance on messaging

  • Customer (patient)-facing materials edited to meet diversity standards

  • Websites revised to reduce culturally incompetent messages

  • Implement Diversity, Equity and Inclusion throughout programs

  • Set up diverse messaging teams available to provide consultation

  • Address equity in data collection, handling, integration, etc.

  • Human Resources Units infuse equity messaging throughout procedures

  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion be added in personnel evaluations

  • Recognize and lift up individuals and units that excel in this process

  • Track, measure and evaluate both implementation and outcome

  • Brand 'Diversity, Equity and Inclusion' as a top value of the organization

  • Receive, consider and operationalize valued ideas from rank and file

Note, this is not just about African Americans, it is for all segments of our population, service area and communities. Clear messaging must go to everyone. After all we are one America although in practice for many years we have been divided groups of people living apart, not really interacting, and knowing little about each other. Perhaps we in healthcare can take the lead in making America ONE.


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