Outreach can encourage more people to utilize free preventative care.
Preventative care—including recommended screenings, vaccines, and annual checkups—is one of the best ways to manage your health. They can help reduce your risk of serious illnesses, and to catch any diseases early, while they are easier to treat.
To level the playing field for people regardless of income level, many screenings and vaccines are offered for free. These offerings have helped millions of Americans over the years—but not everyone is taking advantage of them. Why?
There are many reasons—and there are other barriers to health care besides money—but some of it comes down to trust, according to Sanjai Sinha, MD, internist at Weill Cornell Medicine.
Many studies have found that Black and Hispanic patients are more likely to trust doctors who look like them. Here’s the problem: As of 2019, 56.2 percent of physicians are White, according to the Association of American Medical College. By comparison, only 5 percent of physicians are Black or African American, and 5.8 percent are Hispanic.
Community Outreach to Address Racial Disparities
In addition to improving the racial diversity of doctors and nurses, healthcare facilities are also using community outreach. This can help healthcare facilities to connect with people who are not utilizing health programs.
“For instance, if I have several patients who all live in a community who don’t get any vaccines, but they all go to a certain church, or they go to a certain social setting where there are people, [they can help] to better understand what do these patients think about vaccines,” says Dr. Sinha. “What are their barriers? Can we get through those barriers? What is it about their values or preferences?”
Outreach can be conversations in those churches or social settings, but it can also include mobile units (to provide free screenings, tests, or checkups), educational resources, or providing free transportation to medical services. (Here are more ways health care is connecting with vulnerable populations.)
Dr. Sinha says it’s essential for physicians to be open-minded and listen to their patient’s concerns, and not just focus on being “right” or the authority figure. “It’s our job to try to find the answers in that community to work with,” he says.
Dr. Sinha specializes in internal medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York.
00:00:00.833 --> 00:00:03.999
Racial and ethnic minorities are less likely to get screenings,
00:00:04.000 --> 00:00:06.732
including vaccines, and a lot of these are free,
00:00:06.733 --> 00:00:09.732
so theoretically, even if you don't have insurance,
00:00:09.733 --> 00:00:11.399
you would be able to access them,
00:00:11.400 --> 00:00:13.866
or if you have basic insurance, they're covered
00:00:13.867 --> 00:00:14.899
under the law.
00:00:14.900 --> 00:00:15.466
00:00:15.467 --> 00:00:20.099
What can be done to encourage more populations
00:00:20.100 --> 00:00:23.399
to get the life-saving screenings that are available to them?
00:00:23.400 --> 00:00:24.767
00:00:28.433 --> 00:00:32.266
So, I think there's a lot of controversy around vaccines
00:00:32.267 --> 00:00:35.366
when there shouldn't be, across all populations in this country.
00:00:35.367 --> 00:00:38.232
It's quite frightening.
00:00:38.233 --> 00:00:41.432
Going back to how patients receive information
00:00:41.433 --> 00:00:47.099
and who they trust is a key place that we need to intervene on.
00:00:47.100 --> 00:00:51.499
So for instance, if I have several patients who all live
in a community
00:00:51.500 --> 00:00:53.066
who don't want to get any vaccines,
00:00:53.067 --> 00:00:54.732
but they all go to a certain church,
00:00:54.733 --> 00:00:58.099
or they go to a certain social setting
00:00:58.100 --> 00:01:03.332
where there are people who they trust, who actually do believe
00:01:03.333 --> 00:01:04.766
An influencer. (laughs)
00:01:04.767 --> 00:01:05.599
00:01:05.600 --> 00:01:08.999
So that's the kind of person,
00:01:09.000 --> 00:01:11.599
again, this is us going out to the community.
00:01:11.600 --> 00:01:16.332
This is us reaching out to the patients writ large in an area
00:01:16.333 --> 00:01:20.432
where, perhaps, they never had that kind of outreach,
that kind of penetration,
00:01:20.433 --> 00:01:23.032
and using the influencers, that's a great term there
00:01:23.033 --> 00:01:24.266
because that's what they are,
00:01:24.267 --> 00:01:27.032
be it community health workers, which we've been using
00:01:27.033 --> 00:01:30.332
at Cornell to better understand what do these patients
00:01:30.333 --> 00:01:33.932
think about vaccines, think about colonoscopies,
think about mammograms?
00:01:33.933 --> 00:01:36.532
What are their barriers?
Can we get through those barriers?
00:01:36.533 --> 00:01:38.166
What is it about their values or preferences?
00:01:38.167 --> 00:01:43.199
Some people think that, well if I get this test,
I'm going to actually get the cancer.
00:01:43.200 --> 00:01:44.432
Right because it's got radiation.
00:01:44.433 --> 00:01:47.432
Right, exactly, even if it's got a minimal amount of radiation.
00:01:47.433 --> 00:01:49.999
Or if I get this vaccine, you know, again,
00:01:50.000 --> 00:01:53.132
this cuts across all sociodemographic strata.
00:01:53.133 --> 00:01:55.366
There's a lot of fear about vaccines.
00:01:55.367 --> 00:01:59.499
But whether or not there's a particular cluster of fear
in a community,
00:01:59.500 --> 00:02:05.032
it's our job to try and find those influencers in that community
to work with
00:02:05.033 --> 00:02:06.566
and meet them halfway.
00:02:06.567 --> 00:02:09.366
You know, to be flexible about your own bias,
00:02:09.367 --> 00:02:12.599
and say, alright, even though I think I know the best
00:02:12.600 --> 00:02:16.066
and I know that this is right, and that all of your thoughts
00:02:16.067 --> 00:02:18.232
about this don't make any sense, I still need to know
00:02:18.233 --> 00:02:21.599
where you're coming from, otherwise I'm not gonna
make any headway.
00:02:21.600 --> 00:02:23.267