News Roundup | Week of May 25, 2018

By Megan Bedford on 5/25/18 3:41 PM

In this week's News Roundup:
  • Health Equity Bill Introduced in Congress
  • Medical Schools Must Do More to Combat Racism
  • Experiment with Barbershop Clinics is Succeeding

Health Equity Bill Introduced in Congress

The Congressional Tri-Caucus, made up of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, Congressional Black Caucus, and Congressional Hispanic Caucus, has introduced the Health Equity and Accountability Act of 2018 (HEAA), a bill that attempts to address health disparities based on race and ethnicity. The authors note several reasons for these disparities, including language and cultural barriers to care.

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You Signed the #123forEquity Pledge. Now What?

By Megan Bedford on 5/24/18 10:20 AM

To date, 1,656 organizations, 51 state hospital associations, and 11 municipal hospital associations have signed onto the American Hospital Association's (AHA) #123forEquity Pledge to eliminate healthcare disparities. That means every state, and nearly 30% of our nation's hospitals, are represented in the movement to improve health equity. But the road between pledging good intention and effecting actionable change can be poorly marked, and dotted with unseen obstacles. In this post we'll review the key tenets of the AHA's Equity of Care Campaign, rationale for participation, and key actions hospitals and health systems can start to focus on today.

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Is Unconscious Bias Training Useful?

By Michele Courton Brown on 5/20/18 4:36 PM



Unconscious (or implicit) bias training is in the spotlight. From the #MeToo movement to the chorus of outrage over the unwarranted arrests of two black men at a Starbucks, companies are facing increasing public pressure to address the roots of discriminatory treatment.  But questions remain over whether bias training is an effective course of action, versus a perfunctory act taken to avoid bad press.

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News Roundup | Week of May 18, 2018

By Megan Bedford on 5/18/18 5:07 PM

In this week's News Roundup:
  • Near-Miss Mothers: For Every Woman Who Dies Post-Childbirth, Thousands More Come Close
  • Surging Opioid Overdose Rate in Latinos Tied to Language Barriers
  • More Transgender-Inclusive Healthcare is Essential

Near-Miss Mothers: For Every Woman Who Dies Post-Childbirth, Thousands More Come Close

The maternal mortality rates in the U.S. are grim, but the number of women who suffer postpartum complications that nearly cause death are even worse. For every woman who dies after childbirth, at least 70 come close. Some estimates put the number of women who suffer "severe maternal morbidity" at around 80,000 per year. A report by NPR/ProPublica finds that many of these complications are preventable, and there's a common theme that postpartum mothers don't feel their concerns are taken seriously by healthcare providers.

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News Roundup | Week of May 11, 2018

By Megan Bedford on 5/11/18 2:10 PM

In this week's News Roundup:
  • Unconscious Bias Training Can Ease Crisis in Black Maternal Mortality
  • Stigmatizing Language in Medical Records Affects Patient Care
  • Discrimination Causes Latinas to Be Less Satisfied with Contraception
  • Documentary Explores Desegregation of Healthcare System

Unconscious Bias Training Can Ease Crisis in Black Maternal Mortality

We've reported extensively on the dismal maternal mortality rates in the U.S., and the crisis in black maternal mortality in particular. A new piece by NBC News follows the stories of two black mothers who experienced serious complications with their deliveries. Both women felt their medical teams were dismissive and brusque, and that their health problems may have been avoided with better communication. They are among the 32% of black women who feel they’ve been discriminated against in physicians’ offices. Unconscious (or implicit) bias on the part of healthcare providers has very real consequences for patient outcomes. Bias training may not be the complete solution, but it is part of the solution, and should become a standard practice in all medical schools and healthcare organizations.

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News Roundup | Week of May 4, 2018

By Megan Bedford on 5/4/18 11:07 AM

In this week's News Roundup:

How Empathy Keeps People Out of the Hospital

Growing evidence shows that more empathetic care can keep people healthier and reduce hospital visits. A new piece by NPR's Marketplace profiles Philadelphia's Penn Center for Community Health Workers, which pairs community health workers with patients who frequent hospitals due to chronic illness, poverty, or mental health problems. The community health workers visit patients at their homes and help them navigate their health issues. The Penn Center makes an effort to match its staff with patients who share a similar background, in order to inspire trust. A randomized, controlled study showed the Center reduced hospitalizations by 30%.

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The Time Objection: Cross-Cultural Care and the Ever-Shortening Office Visit

By Alexander Green, MD, MPH on 5/1/18 8:38 AM

The most common objection

I've given hundreds of presentations on culturally-competent care to busy clinicians around the world. At the end of my talk, someone always asks the "time question." I know plenty of other clinicians are thinking it, but don’t want to appear insensitive. So I wait for a brave soul to say, “Dr. Green, you’re telling me that if I want to be culturally competent, I have to do all of these things on top of what I already have to cover? I have to ask my patients how they understand their condition? What their religious practices are? Whether they trust me? I’d love to—but I just don’t have time!”

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News Roundup | Week of April 27, 2018

By Megan Bedford on 4/27/18 12:21 PM

Asian Americans Undertreated for Mental Health Disorders

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How to Approach Medical Decision-Making Across Cultures

By Megan Bedford on 4/24/18 1:16 PM

How should important medical decisions be made?

If you've grown up in the U.S., you're probably familiar with the concept of a patient's "right to know." American culture holds that patients are entitled to be fully informed in their own medical care, including the decision-making process. In some cultures, however, autonomy in decision-making is not the norm. For many people, it is essential to involve (or even defer to) others, particularly family members, in important health decisions. In such families, it's common to look to an authority figure (determined by gender, position in the family, or level of acculturation) as the primary decision-maker within the group. In some cases, these families may wish to exclude the patient from decisions in order to avoid what is perceived as undue stress. This can cause friction between health providers, patients, and their relatives.

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News Roundup | Week of April 20, 2018

By Megan Bedford on 4/20/18 5:00 PM

Racial Bias Isn't Just a Problem at Starbucks

A video of two black men getting arrested at a Starbucks in Philadelphia has sparked widespread outrage directed at both Starbucks and the police. In response, Starbucks announced that it will close 8,000 stores in May so employees can engage in racial bias training. "While this is not limited to Starbucks, we're committed to being a part of the solution," said CEO Kevin Johnson. The problem certainly isn't limited to one company, or one industry, or one region of the country. There are any number of examples of white Americans calling the police on black Americans without real justification. Deeply ingrained and unconscious racial bias routinely leads to instant, often fear-based judgements about people that can have dire consequences. The question is, what can we do to break this cycle?  

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