Book by Dr. Jennifer Mieres of Northwell Health Calls for Systematic Change in Healthcare Delivery
CHARLESTON, S.C., Oct. 5, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Across the country a call-to-action is going out to confront and conquer pervasive inequalities that mar the healthcare landscape. The harsh spotlight on the life or death lessons learned through the pandemic highlighted the fact that when the most vulnerable suffer, the whole nation suffers.
A few examples of health inequalities: A recent study revealed persistent cancer disparities in Kentucky’s Appalachian region. Another study showed that even though access to telemental health care services has expanded nationwide, counties with a high proportion of Black residents and facilities that accept public insurance didn’t experience as many benefits. And yet another study found that even at the highest-performing hospitals, patient safety is compromised by racial health disparities.
Those studies, and others like them, highlight the need to overcome disparities and achieve equitable health care for all, regardless of race, gender, economics or other characteristics and situations. That is the focus of Dr. Jennifer Mieres’ book Reigniting the Human Connection: A Pathway to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Healthcare, published by Forbes Books.
The book’s theme is especially relevant with the arrival of October, which is Health Literacy Month, an annual observance that has the goal of increasing access to heath care information.
“To improve health outcomes, medicine in the twenty-first century must recognize that we treat the whole patient,” Mieres and her co-authors write in the book’s first chapter. “And that means understanding their individual social determinants of health and their environment.”
Mieres and co-authors Elizabeth McCulloch, PhD, and Michael Wright, EdD, argue that health disparities are not only a result of individual behavior and access to healthcare. They are also a product of systemic inequalities that affect every aspect of our lives, from education and housing to employment and transportation. To address these inequalities and achieve health equity, we must work together to create systemic change that goes beyond the healthcare system.
Mieres (www.drjennifermieres.com) is professor of cardiology at the Zucker School of Medicine and SVP Center for Equity of Care, Northwell Health.
The authors were involved in the implementation of a nationally recognized diversity and health equity framework at Northwell Health. They make the case that to resolve the racial, ethnic, language, and financial inequities that exist in health care quality and access, health systems need to develop systematic approaches to advance diversity, inclusion, and health equity.
Accomplishing that, they write, involves a number of things. But essential elements include:
- developing a team that reflects the diversity of the populations served;
- advancing the field through inclusive research and training;
- broadening community outreach;
- promoting empathetic communication to ensure that all community members feel respected, valued, and heard.
Mieres and her co-authors note there sometimes is a belief in health care that “if a caregiver becomes too personally involved in a patient’s life, their judgment can become clouded by emotion, or they will be so overstressed that they cannot sustain their commitment to the profession and will burn out.”
“We’d like to argue the opposite,” the authors write. “If you fail to know your patients well—if you don’t know about their living conditions, understand their support networks, have information about their lifestyles—you can’t build the partnership essential for healing.”
An Amazon bestseller, Reigniting the Human Connection can be integrated into any healthcare curriculum, offering a framework and implementation plan to a new approach in redesigning healthcare to improve equity in care for all.
About Jennifer Mieres, M.D.
Dr. Jennifer Mieres (www.drjennifermieres.com), co-author of Reigniting the Human Connection: A Pathway to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Healthcare, is a professor of cardiology and associate dean of faculty affairs at the Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell. She also is a senior vice president and chief diversity and inclusion officer at Northwell Health. Mieres is a leading advocate for patient-centered healthcare and medical education reform, and has authored or coauthored over 65 scientific publications.
SOURCE Forbes Books