The Differences Matter: Practicing Cultural Competency
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, “cultural and linguistic competence is a set of congruent behaviors, attitudes, and policies that come together in a system, agency, or among professionals that enables effective work in cross-cultural situations.” What happens if a patient looks, thinks, feels, lives, believes, or speaks differently than those providing care? A lot.
When applied to the healthcare arena, the degree of cultural competence can impact:
- the patient-practitioner relationship
- the quality and cost of care
- the ability to develop a care plan which can be successfully undertaken by the care team, the patient, and anyone else involved in the patient’s care
- the ability of the care team to approach the patient holistically and optimize health outcomes
Beyond Bedside Manner: Ignorance Kills
Though some are naturally gifted with a superlative bedside manner and may have a knowledge base and training in cross-cultural skills, many others may not be as well-versed as they would like. Recognizing the importance of culture, belief systems, body language and other non-verbal cues, and addressing potentially unconscious bias when interacting with patients can dramatically improve quality of care, increase engagement, and ultimately drive better health outcomes and drive down the cost of care.
A lack of understanding, an inability to communicate effectively, and a reluctance to render care within the context of a patient’s values can negatively impact both health and healing, life and limb. Ignorance kills.
In an increasingly diverse world, and with growing evidence of the importance of taking a whole-person view in care delivery, addressing the needs of patients for which there may be multicultural nuances has become a critical clinical skill.
It’s Time to Take Action
Insight MD® can help you assess current performance and design interventions which will enhance your ability to optimize (1) the quality of care, (2) the cost to deliver care, and (3) the patient experience.
Taking action and moving strategically also means (1) better performance relative to HEDIS and CAHPS measures, JCAHO surveys, readmission rates, and (2) a demonstration of improved health outcomes, which facilitates participation in medical home, P4P, bundled payments, and Accountable Care Organization (ACO) models of care.
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