Diversity: It’s important for organizational success, essential for gastroenterology’s future and critical for patient care.
Living by Allied Digestive Health’s Core Value: Inclusion
Language, culture, and ethnicity may lead to barriers when providing patient care and thus the need for diverse teams which more closely resemble the general patient population. With this in mind, Allied Digestive Health (ADH) has made diversity a cornerstone to their delivery of patient care while at the same time selecting inclusion as one of its five core values. Their commitment to embracing diverse backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives is illustrated in all of its interactions. ADH’s inclusive environment is represented through their diverse team compositions, recruitment of talent and outreach to a myriad of fellowship programs, and the selection and development of its next generation of leaders. These efforts have resulted in a diverse pool of gastroenterology candidates (both fellows and experienced GIs) that will continue to enrich its culture moving forward.
ADH’s strategies enable them to leverage the full potential of a diverse team and simultaneously support the diverse communities that they serve. This is represented through their recruitment of staff from different races, ethnicities, genders, ages, languages, and cultures, which is essential for ADH to deliver on their promise of carrying out their mission and providing exceptional patient care. With 37% of employees being from ethnic/minority groups and 73% of employees comprised of women, diverse representation is a priority for the organization. The same holds true from a management and leadership perspective, with 85% of all management (75% director and above) representing women and minorities.
As we bring light to the power of diversity in healthcare, we took the time to hear from gastroenterology leaders from ADH who were given the opportunity to share their thoughts and insights into the value that diversity brings specifically to GI care.
Inclusion and Patient Centered Care
With a variety of perspectives and differing approaches that stem from diverse teams, problems can be solved more efficiently and lead to a more proactive environment overall. Healthcare is crucial for every individual regardless of biological composition. This is due to the fact that “personal health creates a vulnerability that spans all races, ethnicities, and socioeconomic classes,” Mark Cerefice, MD, a gastroenterologist at Atlantic Coast Gastroenterology.
Establishing diversity in the workforce is key to communicating, understanding, and treating all patients with their best interests in mind. “Working with a diverse team spanning such vast backgrounds, ages, and experiences contributes to the creation of a melting pot of ideas, in turn, allowing us to better serve our patients,” Sudha Nahar, MD, a gastroenterologist at Gyan Gastroenterology. External factors also play a crucial role in establishing and managing diverse teams as “diverse cultural backgrounds, experiences and views bring a special charm to the work environment and also creates the possibility of coming up with best possible solutions for any challenges,” according to Nikhil Deshpande, MD, a gastroenterologist at Jersey Shore Gastroenterology.
Improved Communication and Patient Trust
Evidence shows that people of color have greater incidence and more severe cases of disease in the United States. In relation to colorectal cancer, “African Americans are 20% more likely to get colorectal cancer and about 40% more likely to die from it than other groups,” according to the American Cancer Society. They are also less likely to seek care and undergo preventative screening which can be curtailed with increased representation. A Stanford University study found that black male patients who were treated by black physicians were more likely to seek preventative services than those who were treated by non-black physicians.
ADH focuses on establishing a workforce with a multitude of cultures in order to build mutual trust considering that “in the medical field, having teams with members of diverse identities, increases representation and comfort for our equally diverse patient population. Having a diverse team allows patients to feel more comfortable and safe in our offices,” Jai Mirchandani, MD, a gastroenterologist at Gastroenterologists of Ocean County. The key to providing high quality care is leveraging all resources and “being open to perspectives of patients, family members, different medical specialties, nurses, and other medical professionals. This is crucial aspect in devising a care plan that leads to a higher level of quality care,” Colin Brown, MD, a gastroenterologist at Middlesex Monmouth Gastroenterology.
Investing in the Future
With the recent launch of ADH’s physician leadership program, selected gastroenterologists will be trained in the following areas: leading self, leading change, and leading diverse teams with the core values intertwined. This will enable their current and future physician leaders to grow individually and well as in a team setting while providing the tools necessary to grow into the type of leader the organization needs to meet and exceed their patient expectations. Alongside development, the formation of the group will guide physicians to understand the clinical and business complexities within the healthcare area while focusing on delivering value added care in the diverse communities served by Allied Digestive Health.