Six Radiologists’ Strategies for Improving Health Equity

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The term health equity means that every single patient has the right to access health care regardless of their economic or social condition. It means that every single life matters despite the education, living condition, financial situation, or housing of that person.

No matter how much we deny, people of low socioeconomic status do face casualties and irregularities in accessing healthcare just because of their status. The pandemic has unveiled this injustice and the harsh reality of life more clearly than ever.

With black and Hispanic people dying 2-3 times more than the white people of the same community, the world cannot turn a blind eye to this difference and obvious barrier in accessing healthcare. The fact that social determinants were playing a part in people accessing healthcare was alarming and something to be paid direct and immediate attention to.

Living in a technologically advanced era where information is made available with a tap and swipe of a finger, a wide range of people were being aware of the lack of health amenities provided to minority communities. People started getting out and protesting for a more balanced, justified, and equal future so that no one has to fight for their basic human rights.

Scientists began to research to find out why this problem occurred in the first place and what could be done to avoid it in the future. As a result, an article by a scientist Wait at el came to the surface that highlighted the number of ways in which medical imaging can contribute towards equal opportunities for everyone accessing health care.

The article pointed out that the privileges that many high-income people have on their person are one of the major factors why minority communities have a lack of access or delayed response to health care. They also become the reason why minority communities get treated with outdated equipment or resources. 

In the research, Wait et al brought some solutions that covered many aspects of accessing healthcare for people with cultural and socio-economic differences. It covered transparency, flexibility in prices, encouraging diversity, and letting the staff be competent enough to deal with a wide range of different people.

They emphasize the importance of utilizing resources and algorithms that makes the decision of medical treatment free from any kind of bias. The underrepresentation of minorities in the modern diagnostic system should be eradicated with the help of a diverse workforce who understands the importance of the services that they are providing and the well-being of people regardless of their status.

Encourage Diversity:  One of the best things one can do to empower an equal opportunity workplace is to educate all the working bodies to respect each other’s differences and put a more firm no-tolerance policy on anyone failing to put aside their biases. If this is made a norm at our workplaces where healthcare providers can offer flexible rates and top-notch service no matter what, then we can build a community of mutual respect and love.

Be Inclusive: We have to try and make our healthcare system more and more accessible where patients don’t have to feel run down just for scheduling an appointment. Our systems have to be considerate   of people who bear the weight of many responsibilities

Offer Affordability: Any patient who lacks the financial means to access healthcare should be catered to the same way a VIP patient gets treated. Imagining services should be made easier to get with lesser prices and the acceptance of a wide range of insurances so there is no aspect that we don’t cover when it comes to serving and treating everyone who trusts us with their lives.

Optimize Accessibility: Build more medical imaging centers in areas that severely lack medical attention. Make transportation easier so that people living far or not having enough money to travel have to suffer. One more thing that can be done is that radiologists can set up mobile imaging machines which can be taken anywhere so that the patient can have medical services anywhere they want.

Educate Staff On Cultural Competency: To be working in a field where we live to cater to others in their most critical moment, we need to teach our staff to be able to communicate with patients. We can also hire staff that is fluent in at least two languages so that there is no language barrier.

Promote Open Communication: Staff should know the importance of communicating the diagnosis with their patients in order to make them crystal clear about their medical condition. 

Health equity in radiology matters a lot because there has been a stark difference in work ethic and procedures that African-American and Hispanic people face in their medical imaging procedures. Women with different cultural-background than white people faced great irregularities while going for mammography. According to some studies, it has been shown that African-American and Hispanic women faced difficulties in not only getting proper access to mammography healthcare providers but also faced inconsistency in their follow-up procedures.

These differences are more pronounced in the lung cancer screening for people with lesser representation. It can also be observed that the radiology patterns for stroke intervention differed a lot for people with lower socioeconomic status. 

The evidence is right there on the table, making it clear how the radiology services differ when it comes to people with lesser privileges. The undeniable disparities that communities of lesser representation face on a daily basis is a constant bell ringing over our heads reminding us of awakening the humanity we have buried six feet down.

Hospitals and healthcare providers being the most important and primary source of the well-being of our people must make a commitment to empowering inclusivity in our healthcare procedures so that not only we can ensure that people seeking medical attention get the services just as anybody else but also receive the proper care that they deserve.

 It means that as a society we work our way through encouraging diversity and providing equal opportunities at our workplace so that all working bodies respect the differences we share. It means that we offer affordability and flexible pricing structures to support people who lack the financial means to access proper healthcare

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