Equipping Staff to Care for Diverse Patient Populations

Best Practices for Ensuring Culturally Competent Care

Topics: Diversity, Workforce, People Skills, Skill Development, Orientation and Onboarding, Recruitment and Retention, Incentives, Performance Management, Cost Management, Margin Performance, Finance, Patient-Focused Care, Methodologies, Performance Improvement

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By reading this study, HR leaders will learn how to:

  • Develop overall workforce cultural competence
  • Educate staff on care disparaties
  • Operationalize culturally competent care
  • HR Investment Center members can check out the appendix for cultural flash cards, language cheat sheats, job descriptions, and more.

Executive Summary

The impact of rising patient diversity

As the U.S. population becomes more diverse and organizations attempt to engage patients in their own care, hospitals and health systems must dramatically improve the level of care provided to ethnic minorities. But when patients and providers speak different languages or hold significantly different cultural beliefs, activating patients to manage their care can be difficult.

To close these gaps, HR leaders must ensure staff have both the skills and the resources necessary to deliver culturally competent care to increasingly diverse patient populations.

Build cultural competency through improved education

To truly develop a foundation of cultural competency in all staff, leaders must first improve education and goal-setting efforts. There are five steps to high-impact cultural training:

    1. Alert staff to potential health care disparities
    2. Leverage champions as instructors
    3. Help staff examine their own biases
    4. Provide actionable next steps
    5. Double-down on most prevalent minorities

Provide resources for in-the-moment support

Leaders must also provide supplemental support to translate cultural competence into care delivery. Most organizations educate clinical staff on diversity issues, but less than one third offer guidelines on how to incorporate this training into their daily work.

Beyond education, HR leaders should establish central resources like language flashcards, interpretation services, and cultural “Facts at a Glance” sheets that provide in-the-moment support for staff directly interacting with diverse patients.

Essay: The Rising Need for Culturally Competent Care