What challenges exist when it comes to creating a humanized healthcare experience for diverse populations?

In my career, I’ve witnessed firsthand how providing quality care can be challenging in the face of diverse cultural, socioeconomic and geographic backgrounds. A significant challenge in humanizing healthcare for diverse populations is that clinicians are often overburdened due to productivity metrics or management’s focus on efficiency and volume. This burden leads clinicians to reduce patients from individuals with unique needs into their symptoms or diagnosis. It abstracts the meaning and purpose of their work. ‍The truth is, most people enter healthcare because they want to serve others and alleviate suffering – not just meet quotas.

Focusing on these impersonal metrics creates an environment where clinicians struggle to survive, leading them towards burnout and apathy towards individual patient needs – dehumanizing the healthcare experience!

We need a change! The biggest change we need is reconnecting with our role as providers of care helping others on their road to recovery. It’s time for leadership to provide freedom & space beyond efficiency metrics. In some clinics I’ve worked with, we use CARE measure (Care And Relational Empathy Scale). This focuses on non-technical skills which brings back humanity into healthcare!

I believe that this shift will greatly improve the overall patient experience while reducing clinician stress levels. Let’s remember why we chose this profession in the first place – To Serve People!




The Challenge of Diversity in Healthcare

In my career as a clinician, manager, and consultant, I’ve been in situations where healthcare systems serve patients from diverse cultural backgrounds or socioeconomic backgrounds or even just geographic backgrounds. This presents unique challenges when it comes to delivering a truly humanized healthcare experience.

Take for example the VA clinic where I worked. We saw everybody from Toccoa, Georgia up north all the way down to Dublin, Georgia in the south rural area – that’s a wide range of people with different socioeconomic status and cultural backgrounds. Some would drive over two hours just to see us at the clinic.

The Strain on Clinicians

A significant challenge stems from clinicians on the front lines being heavily burdened by productivity metrics and utilization demands due largely to our fee-for-service model of healthcare financing. The focus often shifts towards efficiency and volume rather than patient connection creating an environment where clinicians feel overworked and taxed.

This pressure leads clinicians reduce their patients to mere diagnosis; Rafi Salazar becomes “the rotator cuff repair at eight o’clock.” In this reductionist approach, we lose sight of each individual’s unique social context which is crucial for effective treatment planning. It also abstracts for clinicians the meaning or purpose behind their work leading them closer towards burnout while depriving them off job satisfaction.

Reconnecting with Purpose: A Humanizing Approach

I’ve always said that most people who go into healthcare do so because they want to serve people – it’s more like a vocational calling than simply having a job. They desire alleviating suffering but too often end up merely surviving within an overwhelmed system that prioritizes efficiency above all else. This creates patterns of behavior among practitioners that really dehumanize patient care experiences making any genuine relationship building between the clinician and patient challenging.

The biggest change we need to make is reconnecting practitioners with their role’s purpose: helping people on their unique road to recovery. Leadership has a crucial role in giving clinicians the freedom and space to do this, perhaps by focusing on other metrics besides just efficiency ones.

In my clinic, we’ve adopted measures such as the Care and Relational Empathy Scale (CARE) which focuses on non-technical soft skills that underline the human element of healthcare. It’s these shifts towards more empathetic care models that will help us truly humanize our healthcare experiences across diverse populations.


What are some ways you see healthcare technology helping to humanize healthcare?


For more content like this, check out our Insights Page and check out The Better Outcomes Show. Or if you want to humanize healthcare through your business or organization, learn how Rehab U Practice Solutions can help here! You can also schedule a call with Rafi to discuss your company’s positioning strategy and brainstorm a business development plan here. Check out Rafi’s latest book, Better Outcomes: A Guide to Humanizing Healthcare, on Amazon!

Rafael E. Salazar II, MHS, OTR/L (Rafi) is the Principal Owner of Rehab U Practice Solutions and the host of The Better Outcomes Show and the author of Better Outcomes: A Guide to Humanizing Healthcare. His career trajectory includes 12+ years of experience in healthcare management, clinical operations, programmatic development, marketing & business development. He even spent some time as an Assistant Professor in a Graduate Program of Occupational Therapy and has served on numerous boards and regulatory committees. He has worked on projects ranging from patient engagement initiatives to marketing communication campaigns to a multi million dollar project assisting the State of Georgia's Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities transition individuals out of state institutions to community residences. His work on Telehealth has been discussed in Forbes.

Today, Rafi helps innovative healthcare companies like technology startups, platforms, SaaS companies & innovative healthcare organizations develop effective positioning strategy and business development plans through his consulting work. He also leverages his experience as a professor and academic to speak and train on the topics around humanizing the healthcare experience & healthcare innovation. In addition, Rafi also owns and operates ProActive Rehabilitation & Wellness, a multidisciplinary outpatient clinic treating patients with musculoskeletal pain.

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Medical Professionals RafiIf you are an innovative healthcare company looking to humanize healthcare through direct service delivery, technology, a device, or software, then reach out. We'd love to talk with you about how Rehab U Practice Solutions can help.

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✅ Clarify your product, service, or organization's positioning strategy...

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We help you not only craft your healthcare positioning strategy, we help you identify your highest value offer for your target audience, align that value with your market, and help you develop a business development system that leverages insights from market data & industry-specific resources to enable your business development team to effectively drive business for your organization.

I also speak and train at healthcare conferences, events, and organizations on topics related to technology-enabled care, healthcare innovation, healthcare positioning, and humanizing the healthcare experience. 


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