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The interesting connection between pediatric outcomes and DEI

Recently, the Becker’s Healthcare Podcast interviewed Dr. Peggy Greco, Chief Patient Experience Officer at Nemours Children’s Health, and NRC Health Customer Success Manager Cami Mitelman to discuss what diversity, equity, and inclusion outcomes look like in patient experience, and how the tools and technology NRC Health offers empower Nemours to identify disparities in the patient experience and work to close the gap.

When we look at patients who speak a language not spoken by medical staff, elderly patients without money for prescriptions, or families uncomfortable to go to a clinic because of race-related concerns about being treated fairly, the common thread is an ignorance of diversity, equity, and inclusion and the role they play a patient’s health, Mitelman says. “When we know where and why disparities exist, we can help our partners assess these disparities and measure the outcomes of their targeted interventions addressing their patients’ needs,” she says.

Greco says we must also think about things like associate diversity. Typically, efforts related to DEI focus on just the patient; however, it is also necessary to consider the diversity of associates and staff members. “Studies show that when there’s matching between the race and ethnicity of the provider and the patient, there can be improved health outcomes,” Greco says.

Growing Human Understanding®

Human Understanding means knowing your patient—including the social, economic, behavioral, and environmental factors that affect their lives—and treating each patient as a distinct individual. Focusing on the individual patient and their broader experience relates directly to a patient’s health outcomes. “There are a lot of exciting ways in which Human Understanding helps inform our understanding of what individuals need, and that allows us to go well beyond medicine,” Greco says.

Nemours ensures that all patients, no matter their race, ethnicity, or language, understand recommendations and know how to have their questions answered. The organization has accomplished this goal by increasing the number of interpreters, enabling the printing of recommendations from the EHR in multiple languages, and providing educational materials in those languages as well. Improved understanding by patients is associated with a reduced risk of their returning to the emergency department.

Incorporating DEI into Metrics

Healthcare is a metrics-focused discipline. Unfortunately, incorporating DEI into health metrics has not been a priority until recently. Nemours and other health systems are increasingly monitoring various DEI metrics to identify potential disparities in access, care, or outcomes.

Greco says it’s not so much about the fact that we have new and different tools; it’s about how we use the tools we already have. She says that typically, most healthcare systems utilize a patient-experience survey administered post-visit or post-discharge, and may pick a specific item to track as an annual goal. Suppose a hospital is tracking likelihood to recommend. “When you have that DEI lens, you’re thinking about everything related to that survey and that goal,” Greco says. “You want to ask if we’re getting response rates for that survey that are representative of our patients, so we really hear from all voices. When we look at the responses we’re receiving, we want to ask if there any demographic variables.

“Cami and her team developed a tool that allowed us to examine individual survey items by race, ethnicity, and language,” she continues. “And in that way, we could identify the items with the greatest disparity, which were the ones we wanted to prioritize for improvement. So instead of going with a standard that many healthcare systems use, we prioritized focusing on items that showed the greatest disparity and working on impacting that and tracking progress along demographics.”

Mitelman adds that NRC Health has been able to provide quantitative analysis and qualitative feedback for health partners through patient comments. “In combination with the quantitative and qualitative data, it is giving them some actionable feedback that they can use to help improve,” she says.

Greco says that one of the tools that has been very helpful for the pediatric field is the Pediatric Collaborative Cami runs, which allows different children’s hospitals to come together and discuss these issues, how DEI is being measured, and how they’re all addressing it. “When you have multiple pediatric institutions using the same survey tool, you have benchmark data and can collaborate,” Greco says. “It’s very satisfying when you realize there’s a connection between patient experience and health outcomes.”

Register for NRC Health’s 2023 Pediatric Collaborative in Phoenix

NRC Health is excited to partner with Phoenix Children’s for the 2023 Pediatric Collaborative on March 28 and 29. NRC Health’s Pediatric Collaborative creates opportunities for pediatric healthcare leaders to connect, learn something new, and leave inspired to make a positive change. Don’t miss a chance to make invaluable pediatric connections, dive deeper into strategic education, and reignite your passion with inspiring speakers.