One Analyst’s Reaction to the Disproportionate Impact of COVID-19 on Communities of Color: Part 2
by Brian Gillard
In Part 1, we talked about the analytical process that I used to determine some of the possible reasons why COVID-19 continues to disproportionately affect the Black community. We concluded that the community having a higher percentage of people who suffer from chronic disease as a result of inequities in key social determinants of health may make them more susceptible to contracting COVID and having more adverse effects from it.
But analytics isn’t just about uncovering the reasons why something may be occurring. It’s also about using the insights gained to make recommendations to improve what we’re analyzing. When making recommendations, analysts usually focus on trying to improve the cause of the occurrence, its effect or outcome, or optimize both.
Since the causes around this issue are so systemically entrenched and a part of a much bigger societal issue, I won’t even attempt to address those here. Instead, I will focus on the effects by sharing what I think can be done to improve Black healthcare outcomes.
My recommendations are about providing this community the same level of care that other communities are used to receiving.
My recommendations are about providing this community the same level of care that other communities are used to receiving. I feel this can be done by helping healthcare professionals develop a better cultural understanding of the Black patient.
The Recommendation—Improve Cultural Understanding:
I have both experienced and had friends and family tell me about negative experiences they’ve had at doctor visits. Interestingly, there was one thing that most of those experiences seemed to have in common. A feeling that doctors, nurse practitioners, or physician assistants who were either non-Black or weren’t used to or comfortable seeing Black patients, didn’t really know how to relate to them. As a result, they left visits feeling uneasy and unsure about who they just saw and their treatment plan since they felt they didn’t truly understand the full scope of what they’re dealing with. In short, there was a cultural disconnect between them and the person who just cared for them.
In short, there was a cultural disconnect between them and the person who just cared for them.
To reduce the likelihood or the number of instances where this may occur, I would recommend that HCPs undergo cross-cultural communications training as a means to better understand how best to interact with not just Black patients, but all patients who are part of cultural groups that they’re not intimately familiar with.
This type of training would hopefully help HCPs relate better with these patients, it could also help them keep cultural considerations top-of-mind while they diagnose and treat. Keeping this top-of-mind may have an additional benefit—it may help HCPs recognize and reduce the conscious and unconscious biases that may sometimes drive them to jump to conclusions about how best to treat patients of particular cultural groups.
So there you have it, a two-part, detailed perspective of why I believe COVID-19 has affected my community so harshly, how it’s a symptom of a much larger societal issue, and one very important, pivotal thing I think can be done about it. I also gave you a glimpse of the process I use to analyze things both inside and outside of my role at Ogilvy Health. I hope this assessment can not only help generate discussion but can lead to meaningful change!
Interested in learning more about the healthcare industry’s response to the coronavirus pandemic? Check out another Ogilvy Health analyst’s in-depth look at how personal data and digital technology is being used to fight the virus.