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Health

The Value Of Cultural Competence In Healthcare

Not many people may have noticed this, but culture can greatly influence how a person views the different aspects of healthcare. For instance, some indigenous tribe members might take a lot of convincing to seek medical care following a serious health concern. Still, others might be too afraid to seek medical care for fear of racial discrimination and gender bias.

Healthcare practitioners may enhance their cultural competence to make healthcare access and services equitable to everyone. Cultural competence must be practiced to address the disparities experienced by patients with diverse cultural backgrounds. Its successful application ensures all patients receive quality medical care.

According to the American Academy of Physicians (AAFP), a patient’s language and culture shouldn’t impede medical access. A culturally competent healthcare system must facilitate better patient outcomes despite disparities.

But how can healthcare institutions promote cultural competence? And what are the benefits of practicing this vital component in healthcare delivery? Let’s take a closer look at the subject in this article.

 

How Healthcare Institutions Promote Cultural Competence

 

The American population is diversifying faster than predicted, which means healthcare needs have evolved. Because of these changes, healthcare providers must diversify their strategies to address patient needs efficiently.

One of the more effective ways to provide a culturally competent service is to conduct community outreach programs. In doing so, hospitals and clinics can understand the community better and learn how to address their healthcare needs.

Community outreach is one of the core components of an IMA program in Peru, where pre-medical interns either shadow healthcare practitioners or conduct lectures on public health and hygiene themselves.

Additionally, organizations can develop a system that adopts best practices in cultural competency, develop their staff’s cultural awareness, and open their doors to a more diverse team.

At the onset, practicing cultural competence requires healthcare workers to set aside their prejudices and bias and develop a genuine interest in learning and accepting other people’s cultures. Besides practicing cultural awareness, all employees must develop communication skills to interact effectively with patients from different cultures, religions, or genders.

How the Healthcare Sector Can Benefit from Cultural Competence

In a nutshell, cultural competence in healthcare aims to deliver the best care for patients regardless of their language, beliefs, values, and orientation. Culturally and linguistically appropriate services, or CLAS, provide understandable, effective, and respectful solutions, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health.

Providers must look beyond patients’ looks and understand their backgrounds to deliver effective healthcare solutions. In some ways, it focuses on providing individualized service.

Cultural competence is an important healthcare service component that effectively responds to a patient’s unique needs, resulting in the following:

1. More Efficient Healthcare Services

Because of cultural awareness and understanding, healthcare workers become more sensitive to an individual’s needs. For instance, communication barriers can hinder service delivery. A study by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) found that patients with limited English proficiency had higher risks of experiencing adverse outcomes than their fluent counterparts.

Communication is crucial in collecting medical history and other information that affect diagnostic and treatment outcomes. Not having a clear understanding of a patient’s symptoms, feelings, and concerns generates a chain reaction that leads to poor service. Its aftermath may be comparable to the results of cyberattacks in healthcare.

Bridging communication and cultural gaps can be addressed by hiring healthcare workers from ethnically diverse backgrounds, including those who speak secondary languages like Spanish, Arabic, and Chinese. Doing so helps prevent costly misunderstandings and service deficiencies.

2. Enhanced Patient Satisfaction

Trust is one of the most important elements of effective service delivery. But how can patients trust healthcare providers if they don’t see any effort to understand their needs?

Cultural competency demonstrates respect for patients and adjusting specific actions to fulfill patient preferences and needs. Healthcare workers must follow proper work protocols without disregarding their patient’s needs or addressing their concerns. When people notice that practitioners adapt to their preferences and listen to their concerns, they become more engaged. Higher engagement means they’re more likely to ask questions and become more involved at every stage of the treatment.

3. Improved Patient Outcomes

Cultural competence in healthcare can effectively eliminate barriers that negatively affect access to quality care, including biases, communication gaps, and lack of trust. Addressing such factors boosts patient safety and satisfaction and enables efficient healthcare provision. These key elements improve patient outcomes because of increased collaboration between clinicians and their patients.

A positive experience with healthcare providers can lead to higher medication adherence rates as patients become more compliant with the physician’s instructions and treatment plan. An increased willingness to optimize healthcare intervention means better treatment results.

 

Concluding Thoughts

Cultural competence is key to providing excellent medical care. By addressing patients’ individualized needs, healthcare organizations can offer everyone the same levels of high-quality service regardless of socioeconomic status, gender, age, race, or religious beliefs. Cultural competence is the missing link for achieving a win-win solution for everyone.

 

 

 

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