In Healthy States’ third “Hacking Health Care” event a group of talented young people came together to propose creative ideas to improve health among culturally diverse young adults in the U.S.
They proposed using more sophisticated – and fun – technology. They described how you could integrate dental and medical care and insurance coverage to improve health. Lastly, they discussed how health care providers can be better resources for them, their patients. Our hackers summed it up in two words: cultural competence.
“Competence” implies having the capacity to function effectively as an individual or an organization within the context of the cultural beliefs, practices, and needs presented by patients and their communities. – Association of American Medical Colleges
No cookie cutter care, no one size fits all. As one hacker said “My provider should avoid assumptions. She/he should understand cultural context and health values in my community.”
We know, thanks to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that young people of color are much less likely to have a regular health care provider than white people. Doctors concerned about these racial disparities in health care say developing cultural competence is an important strategy in reducing them. There are a number of efforts underway to make this a reality.
Even so, developing cultural competence is a big challenge. Schools need to recruit medical students so the field of physicians mirrors the growing cultural diversity of the nation. Providers need to write care instructions in a number of languages. And they need to take care that translated materials use words and terminology that are appropriate to many different languages and contexts.
Meeting that challenge seems a worthy goal given the racial disparities in health care and the increasing diversity of the American population.
Healthy States’ third Hacking Health Care event was made possible in part by Delta Dental of Minnesota.