Enhanced patient education through intentional diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I)
According to the National Library of Medicine, there are approximately 80 million U.S. adults with low health literacy, and the U.S. Department of Education’s Health Literacy Report states that 65% of them are Black, Hispanic, or from other underrepresented communities. It turns out that there is.
Merely providing health education to patients will not solve this health literacy inequality. Educational materials, whether print or multimedia, must be created with a purposeful commitment towards diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) in health. Materials reflecting a wide range of patients and patient experiences, including race/ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, family structure, ability, and socioeconomic status, are presented as follows:
- Enhance the medical accuracy of the information presented.
- Build trust among more patients.
- Help providers and payers build better relationships as patient and member demographics change.
What is Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Healthcare?
One easy way to think of DE&I is with the party metaphor. With the patient as a potential party guest, each layer of intentional expression and engagement takes the patient from the outsider to the center of warm and welcoming attention.
Think of this step as being invited to a party and meeting someone you already know. Some patients have never seen anyone who looks like them in medical education resources.
Next, you need to create a space for your guests to enjoy the party as they please. Provide opportunities for people to dance, play games, and talk quietly, depending on their preference. It’s not enough to just include diverse expressions in your content. That content should be effectively delivered to all patients and consumers regardless of potential restrictions on access.
At the final stage, guests should be given the opportunity to express themselves. For example, select your own songs for a party playlist. Teaching materials should be personalized and actionable so that they are practical and can be used by patients.
Development of representativeness and diversity in medical materials
As part of the design team for Wolters Kluwer’s Emmi® Patient Engagement Solution, I have experienced firsthand the challenges of creating a more diverse representation in patient materials. Our EmmiEducate™ patient education service features over 8,000 leaflets and nearly 300 videos to help consumers understand anatomy, medications, procedures and conditions. It is impossible to customize so many materials to accurately reflect the varied experiences of all patients and members who may use them.
The best answer we’ve found is to consciously address the widest range of experiences and perspectives so that the material is less visually repetitive and the storytelling is richer and more medically accurate.
Here are some ways to do this:
- Change skin, eye and hair color using custom design tools. the texture of the hair; even the subtleties of nail and lip tone in patient illustrations.
- It showcases the broader clinician’s experience, not just the patient’s.
- Use diversity to improve clinical accuracy. For example, it can show how skin diseases differ on different skin tones.
- Recruit voice-over artists from different cultures to reflect different experiences. Viewers are more likely to trust voices from their own community.
How can we make health education more accessible?
I always say that medical education needs to be made more accessible to increase equity among patients. It is his approach from two sides.
- Make materials accessible to all patients, regardless of the barriers they face.
- By providing materials that are easy for patients to consume and absorb, they are more likely to retain information and feel less alienated.
Modern healthcare education is largely delivered digitally, creating a variety of ways to improve experience and equity across patient populations.
- Adhere to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) standards.
- Ensure all video content includes closed captions with variable text size and provide transcripts to audio.
- Add ARIA labels to all visual content so that screen readers can share what they see.
The philosophy is to simplify and improve the patient education experience for the entire patient population, as well as improve access to content for people of varying abilities.
The same applies to how content is designed to be consumed and understood. Following institutional and research quality guidelines can serve as a roadmap to making complex clinical information more clear to patients and members. Best practices for improving health literacy include:
- Conversational tone and commonly understood language are used in teaching materials.
- Keep writing materials at the reading level of a fifth grader.
- In addition to English and Spanish, we will provide materials in other language options in order to reach the widest possible patient population.
Can inclusion make education more personal and actionable?
Patients and members tend to feel more empowered to play an active role in making health care decisions when they feel involved and included. can play a major role in helping patients understand themselves in the decision-making process.
gender and sexual orientation
Depiction of patients in artwork may not be gender specific if justified by the use of silhouettes or partial figures. This is appropriate when discussing cervical cancer. For example, instead of showing female body types, we use partial body types to include transgender and non-binary audiences affected by the disease.
Age and mobility range
Exercise and exercise are often recommended in patient education. A picture of a young or energetic person running around a city block fails to recognize the various physical abilities of many patients. The materials should also provide tips and options for different levels of activity. This allows patients to choose for themselves what they are comfortable with.
Healthcare materials should provide practical advice and be sensitive to the different economic realities that patients and members may face. For example, in addition to instructing a member to set up a telemedicine appointment, the materials may first inform her to connect to her Wi-Fi to avoid data usage costs.
Ultimately, the content of patient education must not only make people feel represented, but also give them clear actions to take as the next steps on their journey to health.
Learn more about EmmiEducate multimedia patient education solutions.