Why Diversity Matters in Healthcare — And How Technology Can Help

Published on
Product Minting

Healthcare impacts everyone. It only makes sense, then, that the workforce in this industry reflects the diversity of its patients. Unfortunately, diversity in healthcare has a long way to go.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) practices are important in every sector. In healthcare, though, the effects of this inclusion — or lack thereof — are more impactful than most.

The Importance of Diversity in Healthcare

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), 48.8% of all resident doctors are white. Just 8.1% are Hispanic, and 6.1% are Black. That doesn’t reflect the demographics of the overall workforce, much less the diversity of these professionals’ patients.

Improving those figures is about more than providing equal career opportunities for people of different backgrounds, though. The healthcare industry needs diversity because long-standing biases and the lingering effects of historical discrimination have led to uneven care standards.

The medical system tends to underdiagnose Black patients, slow their treatment, and be less likely to refer them to specialty services. Similar disparities arise with other demographic groups because of similar knowledge gaps and trends stemming from bias and discrimination throughout history.

A more diverse workforce could finally put an end to these trends. Black and female doctors are less likely to exhibit the same implicit biases against Black and female patients as white male doctors.

How Technology Can Improve Diversity in Healthcare

The path to a more diverse healthcare workforce isn’t an easy one, but technology can help. Here are a few ways medical organizations can use new tech to drive better DEI practices.

Removing Bias and Barriers in Recruitment

Healthcare diversity starts with more inclusive hiring. Artificial intelligence (AI) can increase diversity in recruiting in several ways.

First, AI can parse applicants’ resumes to highlight ideal candidates without considering factors like name or gender, which could trigger innate human biases. It can even scan job sites to find professionals who haven’t applied but show potential. That way, healthcare organizations can access a wider, more diverse talent pool than they would with manual processes.

AI can also promote diversity by looking past traditional qualifications. People from historically discriminated groups may lack the same education or experience as others, stopping them from catching human recruiters’ eyes. AI recruiting algorithms can consider a wider range of factors, searching for potential rather than experience to enable more inclusive hiring.

Enabling Remote Collaboration

Technology can also promote diversity by making it easier to work with people from different areas. Telehealth platforms, Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and similar innovations let medical professionals collaborate despite physical distance. As a result, hospitals can gain a global workforce without anyone needing to move.

Many organizations lack diversity because their local talent pools aren’t diverse. If people from other cities, states, or even countries can work for these companies, it removes that barrier. This shift to remote and hybrid work similarly expands employment options for underrepresented groups.

Not every job in healthcare is possible to do remotely. Still, 45% of healthcare professionals can do at least some of their work remotely, only slightly below the average for all jobs. As innovations like remote-controlled surgery robots become more common, remote work will become more viable, too.

Personalizing Training Programs

Healthcare organizations must also rethink their onboarding and training to boost diversity. Technology can help by tailoring career development programs to each worker’s unique needs.

Diverse hiring means accepting some employees who don’t have the same level of experience, thanks to historical barriers. For example, just 13% of radiology leaders are women, creating a cycle where hospitals promote or hire more men for their leadership experience. The answer to this issue is to raise expertise from within, and personalized training enables that.

AI can restructure training programs to better suit employees' education, skillset, and experience. Similar tools can adapt career development resources as employees gain new skills. This personalization enables faster learning, leading women and minorities to achieve needed expertise in less time.

Empowering Employee Feedback

Fostering diversity is also about making fair and equitable workplaces so employees of different backgrounds feel safe and respected. Technology enables this equity by making it easier for medical professionals to voice their opinions.

Cloud platforms provide ideal tools for gathering and analyzing employee feedback. Employees can comfortably fill out forms while staying anonymous, removing the fear of consequences for being honest. On the management side, these tools can aggregate and visualize this data so leaders understand it better.

When more workers express their views and management can see them more clearly, it’s easier to know how the organization must change. More than half of all employees who’ve left a position recently cite feeling disrespected as a reason why. Fostering more communication through technology fights those feelings and shows employees their leaders care about them.

Tracking Diversity and Inclusion Goals

After implementing employee-recommended changes, hospitals can track their impact with data analytics. Ongoing monitoring is essential for effective DEI initiatives, as it reveals how impactful these changes are.

Cloud solutions can combine data from across workflows and employee feedback to provide a single point of view for the entire organization’s DEI. AI can go further and comb through this information to pull actionable insights. It’ll be easier for healthcare leaders to see which changes were effective and what tweaks are necessary.

Over time, predictive analytics could judge the efficacy of potential changes to inform better decision-making. Healthcare organizations could improve their DEI with less trial and error as a result. As they become fairer workplaces, they’ll also attract more diverse talent.

New Tech Could Be the Gateway to Greater Healthcare DEI

It will take time for the healthcare industry to foster the diversity it needs. As long and challenging as that road may be, it’d be a lot harder without modern technology. AI, cloud computing, IoT and similar innovations pave the way for more effective DEI programs.

These changes are beneficial anywhere, but in healthcare, they save lives. As healthcare organizations embrace this technology, they’ll become more diverse and inclusive in less time with less struggle. Quality of care for all people groups will rise as a result.

Discussion (20)

Not yet any reply