Newswise — JMIR Publications published "Valuing Diversity and Inclusion in Health Care to Equip the Workforce: Survey Study and Pathway Analysis" in JMIR Formative Research. The aim of the study is to explore the characteristics of US health systems and their associations with diversity and inclusion (D&I) practices and benefits, examine the associations between D&I practices and three pathways (improve, recruit, and collaborate) to equip workforces, and examine the associations between the three pathways to better equip workforces and business and service benefits.

The authors collected secondary data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Compendium of the US Health Systems, leading to a matched data set of 124 health systems for analysis.

They first explored differences in diversity practices and benefits across the health systems and then examined the relationships among diversity practices, the three pathways, and the benefits. These pathway effects go hand in hand with a talent strategy, indicating that both talent and diversity strategies need to be aligned to achieve the best results for a health system.

Dr Jiban Khuntia, PhD, from the University of Colorado said, "Diversity and talent plans can be aligned to realize multiple desired benefits for health systems. However, a one-size-fits-all approach is not a viable strategy for improving D&I." Co-author Wayne Cascio, also of the University of Colorado Denver, noted that health system characteristics such as size, location, ownership, teaching, and revenue have varying associations with diversity practices and outcomes. To achieve the best results, the key is to align talent management and diversity strategies.

Video interview with Dr Jiban Khuntia and Wayne Cascio on this research article - 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, health systems lacked workforces to treat the diversity of patients. The health care system faces significant challenges matching patients’ beliefs, attitudes, expectations, and care customization to an appropriately diverse workforce. This lack of diversity in the health care workforce poses challenges for caring for diverse populations of patients, leading to variable and often detrimental access and quality issues.

Moreover, it is not clear how health systems can equip their workforces with best practices to achieve a diverse workforce. Health systems need to leverage different pathways to obtain a diverse health care workforce.

Dr Jiban Khuntia and the research team concluded in their JMIR Publications Research Output that the challenges and uncertainties that COVID-19 presented to health systems in the United States have been unprecedented. It is time for health systems to address the diversity issue, which has been a point of conversation for more than three decades.

Regarding the methods to address the talent shortage, health systems that value D&I seem to be less likely to seek external collaborations. This may be because external collaboration is not an effective way to promote D&I inside the health systems. Professional and executive training programs and further education are important for instilling a D&I mindset, strategy, and pathways in a health system.

The improved pathway was shown to be beneficial for outcomes; however, diversity and talent-acquisition efforts must be aligned with recruitment to yield multiple benefits for health systems. Based on the findings, our recommendations will help health systems establish a more diverse health care workforce and improve outcomes for a diverse population.



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Corresponding author: Jiban Khuntia, PhD Health Administration Research Consortium, Business School, University of Colorado, 1475 Lawrence Street, Denver, CO, US

Keywords - health system, workforce, workplace, diversity, inclusion, improve, recruit, collaborate, health care, worker, employee, CEO, chief executive officer, United States, North America, characteristic, benefit, influence, strategy, pathway, hiring, hire, collaboration, talent, student

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JMIR Publications is a leading, born-digital, open access publisher of 30+ academic journals and other innovative scientific communication products that focus on the intersection of health and technology. Its flagship journal, the Journal of Medical Internet Research, is the leading digital health journal globally in content breadth and visibility, and it is the largest journal in the medical informatics field.

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Journal Link: JMIR Formative Research