Today’s National Public Health Week theme focuses on closing the health equity gap for people living with disabilities. It’s a pertinent topic considering how…
Today’s National Public Health Week theme focuses on closing the health equity gap for people living with disabilities. It’s a pertinent topic considering how great the need is for dependable and accessible health care in the community. Unfortunately, people living with disabilities often face challenges securing the care necessary to live well and stay healthy.
Research shows that people living with disabilities are more susceptible to preventable health issues and have an increased mortality rate when compared to non-disabled persons, yet many still lack insurance or are unable to receive care based on their circumstances. Furthermore, when they do visit a health clinic, they may find themselves subjected to stigma or otherwise inadequate care from clinicians.
At CCI Health Services, we believe that every person is entitled to quality and affordable health care, and we act on that principle daily within our health centers. But a united effort in the health sector is needed to overcome ableism in society and establish health equity. As medical professionals and community advocates, we encourage fellow health organizations to join us in considering the following goals when delivering care to people living with disabilities.
Inclusion through innovation
Innovation can resolve everyday problems that limit patients living with disabilities from accessing essential health services. For example, consider how telemedicine continues to be a lifeline for neighbors with severe mobility issues while rideshare apps help remove transportation barriers. Health care organizations have the potential to solve longstanding problems through modern thinking and a willingness to take risks.
Clinicians know that patients best respond to treatment when care is not just delivered but embodied. Inclusive communication ensures that the disability community is seen, heard, and understood. Plain language adapted specifically for each patient based on their unique needs empowers them to recognize their abilities and take the lead on their health journey. We believe that inclusive language is the pillar to exceptional patient health outcomes and advanced care.
Transparency guides change
We believe that accountability must be made a priority. Health organizations would do well to occasionally ask themselves if they are doing their share to end stigma. And how about clinical processes? Are they inclusive? Do they need to be updated for an improved health care experience for patients living with disabilities? It is critical to reflect on if enough is being done and act accordingly if not. Changing established procedures is never easy, but it’s the pathway to equity.
The disability community currently faces poor health outcomes in the U.S., but it doesn’t have to be that way. If health organizations commit to innovating, communicating, and holding themselves accountable, we will achieve the health care system that patients need and deserve. It’s time to stop treating people living with disabilities as an afterthought and put them at the forefront of care. When we work together to lift one community, we lift every community.