By understanding the importance of inclusive healthcare and following these practical tips, executives can create a healthcare system that serves the needs of all people.
Published on Newsweek on Jul 17, 2023
Healthcare is an essential service that should be accessible to all individuals, regardless of their background or abilities. Inclusive healthcare not only aligns with the principles of equality and human rights but also has significant benefits for healthcare organizations. Healthcare organizations must understand the importance of inclusive healthcare and its impact on patient experiences, care quality, patient outcomes and financial outcomes. In this article, we will explore the key aspects of inclusive healthcare and provide practical tips on how to deliver it effectively.
What Does Inclusive Healthcare Look Like?
Inclusive healthcare puts the patient at the center of decision-making and welcomes individuals from all walks of life. It acknowledges that certain services or care offerings may not work for everyone and takes responsibility for adapting to diverse needs. An inclusive healthcare system provides a range of service options and continuously improves its offerings to meet the 8-inclusion needs of all people.
Think of the goal of inclusive healthcare to “treat everyone differently without treating them differently.” In my work with healthcare providers and medtech companies, the most powerful and impactful work we do together is mapping out the patient journey and identifying inclusion gaps through the lens of the 8-inclusion needs of all people. Rather than focusing on a single identity label, like race or gender or disability, we are able to evaluate and plan for the treatment of the whole person — meaning we are accounting for every single identity and intersectionality at the same time.
After a session with one of my clients, a charge nurse mentioned to me that they could have used what they learned last week when their team was treating a transgender Black person with a physical disability. They were scared to make a mistake, and explained that having a practical way to consider inclusion can make it easier to provide tailored care while guiding their team to do the same.
Why Does Inclusive Healthcare Matter?
Inclusive healthcare is essential because even a single negative patient experience can significantly damage an organization’s reputation. Discrimination in the delivery of healthcare services is unacceptable, and executives should prioritize inclusive practices at all times, rather than only when it is convenient. Inclusive healthcare directly contributes to positive patient experiences, better care quality, and improved patient outcomes.
Moreover, individuals are increasingly choosing healthcare providers based on their inclusive approach. By being more inclusive, healthcare organizations can increase their market share, leading to positive financial impacts. Patients benefit from better experiences and improved healthcare outcomes, while society as a whole benefits from reduced overall healthcare costs.
The People Who Need Inclusive Healthcare
Inclusive healthcare is not limited to individuals with disabilities; it encompasses the needs of all identities, intersectionalities, and lived-experiences. Every patient has unique needs, that when met, can enhance their healthcare experience. Consequently, healthcare organizations should recognize that being inclusive aligns with the mission of providing equitable access to care, particularly for vulnerable individuals who cannot adequately care for themselves.