The healthcare industry faces a vast array of challenges related to cultural competence. Many patients struggle to connect with their providers as a result of cultural disconnects that cause confusion and sometimes rather push potential clients away. Healthcare providers should incorporate the “salad bowl” viewpoint in that every different culture adds value to the entire system rather than the “melting pot” idea. By embracing and better understanding various cultures, the quality of care will increase, and thus benefiting all patients around. Cultural competency empowers healthcare providers to tailor their products and/or services to the unique needs of their patients. Healthcare providers should send out questionnaires and surveys to better understand who their local community members consist of, i.e. what type of cultural backgrounds dominate the market. Websites should be published in the most common languages, which again this data can be discovered through questionnaires. Healthcare providers should participate in community volunteer work or local outreach programs to connect with their potential patients and build the patient-provider trust and mutual respect. And finally, in relation to marketing, healthcare providers should target specific consumer cultural values and preferences; for example, whether this be related to posting on certain days of the week or offering social events that include key cultural leaders.
Cultural competence must be viewed as a process rather than simply an end result: “it’s not about the destination, it's about the journey.” Here are 5 tips for building cultural competency in a healthcare system:
- Value cultural diversity and work to build cultural knowledge.
- Become aware of the cultures that surround your practice.
- Be sensitive to different cultural values & beliefs.
- Be adaptable & flexible to the various cultural contexts of local communities.
- Institutionalize cultural knowledge.
All of these tips mentioned above help improve the overall quality of care and aids in eliminating any disparities amongst treatment/care services. To further enhance the patient-provider experience, the providers should prioritize the following items.
- Offer translation guides or interpreter services in the office.
- Recruit local staff that represent minority groups.
- Offer continuous training to improve cultural awareness.
- Include community members & the general public in decision making.
The above word cloud helps to understand the role of culture in the healthcare setting. Here, we can see how cultural differences lead to quite a significant level of mental effects, so it is extremely important that the provider connects with their diverse patients to ensure a trustworthy relationship.