3 Tools Healthcare Brands Can Use to Improve DEI
Almost every organization today references Diversity as a key value and Inclusion is especially important to healthcare organizations dedicated to the health and wellness of their communities.
As we walk through the hallways of our hospitals or clinics, we can experience the rich diversity of the individuals we treat and employ. Yet all too often, on the brand level, these values are missing from creative and digital tactics.
Take a moment to consider your hospital’s branding from a prospective patient’s perspective. Are the people in your imagery representative of the community’s ages, races, genders, and abilities? Do you offer ADA-compliant versions of written or online resources? Do you offer translation services or resources in different languages? Does your facility offer a wide range of faith traditions and spiritual counseling? If some of these answers are ‘No,’ your hospital’s branding may be sending more of an excluding message than it realizes.
Maximize Three Marketing Resources to Boost DEI
Three areas of a healthcare brand that can be used to improve the visibility of your health system's diversity, inclusion, and equity efforts are
- inclusive creative assets
- website accessibility
- provider profile content
Let's take a closer look at each attribute.
Inclusive creative assets
It’s very easy to get into the rut of relying on imagery to satisfy a diversity checklist. For your next ad or campaign, look at your community demographics and consider your hospital’s catchment and target audience to find (or create) imagery that accurately represents those populations.
Ask yourself, what are the Top 5 largest racial/ethnic groups in my service area? What percentage of my service area identifies as LGBTQ? What type of setting do they reside in? Urban, suburban, rural? Which of my service lines need to speak to a specific age group and which serve a general population? Where are people with disabilities underrepresented and how can their visibility be increased?
Answering these questions can start to help build not only diverse creative, but creative that is a true representation of the richness of your community.
Language and health literacy
They say a picture is worth 1,000 words, but successful healthcare marketers never underestimate the value of language. Truly diverse creative assets take deep, thoughtful consideration of the individual experience that expands beyond imagery alone. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, at least 350 languages are spoken in the U.S., and providing resources beyond those required by federal and state law will show your organization’s embrace of the multi-lingual experience.
Consider what languages your own community speaks. You may want to consider producing assets or resources in another language. Or producing critical social media content in different languages is a great first step. Next time your organization is producing an important announcement, like a COVID-19 update, challenge yourself to produce a version in Spanish or a Chinese dialect, like Cantonese or Mandarin. Spanish is the second most widely spoken language in the U.S. and Chinese is third. Facebook also allows publishers to target users based on their language preferences so that the message is sent to the appropriate users.
A real-world example of what this concept looks like in a healthcare setting is found in our work with Logansport Memorial Hospital. This Indiana-based hospital was challenged with communicating information about maternity care to their diverse community. They already had existing maternity materials in English that Ten Adams was redesigning and updating. One of the opportunities the hospital recognized was that they serve a large Hispanic population. They made the decision to create a version specifically for their Hispanic community. Together, we produced resources that included imagery representative of Hispanic families and information translated from English to Spanish. This is one easy way for healthcare to rise to the challenge of becoming more Inclusive.
Breaking down language barriers is one important challenge; accessibility of the information is another. This is where your website and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) can come in. The ADA was enacted in 1990 and gives civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities similar to those provided to individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, and religion. It guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in public accommodations, employment, transportation, state and local government services, and telecommunications.
Over time, the ADA expanded its reach to include digital spaces accessible to the public, including hospital and health system websites. The Department of Justice does not have a regulation setting out detailed standards. They allow businesses and state and local governments to have flexibility in how they comply with the ADA’s general requirements of nondiscrimination and effective communication. However, they still must ensure that the programs, services, and goods that they provide to the public—including those provided online—are accessible to people with disabilities.
Four metrics for website accessibility
To help digital teams set their companies up for success, the U.S. Department of Justice provides four metrics for accessibility:
- Perceivable- This means users should be able to comprehend the information being presented.
- Operable- This means that interface components and navigation cannot require interaction that a user cannot perform.
- Understandable- This means that users must be able to understand the information presented as well as understand the user interface.
- Robust- This means that the content must be clear enough to be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of users, and when necessary, user-assistive technologies.
Healthcare website best practices
Because healthcare-focused digital assets are used by individuals who may have visual, auditory, motor, or other limitations, it's imperative that your team consider how text, visual elements, and navigation are presented.
Here are some general user-friendly best practices:
- Use clear, descriptive, but simple language.
- Use colors, spacing, and format to break up large sections of text.
- Use alternative text (alt text) to describe images.
- Provide captions or transcriptions to accompany video content.
- Ensure the site can be navigated using keyboard, mouse, or trackpad commands.
If you want more details on creating a great hospital website, check out what our digital experts have to say about how to get the best website. They also weigh in on how to optimize healthcare website content for your audience.
Provider profile content
It’s a well-known fact that patients prefer providers they feel they can relate to, whether that be through gender, sexual orientation, race, age, etc. Provider profiles are a great opportunity to showcase the diversity and inclusivity of the organization’s providers.
Ask your providers if they are comfortable adding any of these details to their profiles:
- A headshot. Humans are visual creatures; we like to see the faces of those we will interact with. A headshot is also a great first impression of the provider’s race and age, which may influence a prospective patient as they look for a provider they can relate to.
- Preferred pronouns. Using someone’s preferred pronouns is a simple way to show respect for that person’s gender identity. Including pronouns not only communicates the organization’s recognition of gender identities but also that the provider understands the importance of preferred pronouns.
- Religion. Religion, and spirituality, can influence decisions on diet, medications, end of life care or other recommended treatments. Patients may seek out providers who share their religious belief, making it more likely a provider would be empathetic in adjusting a patient's treatment plan out of respect for their faith.
- Languages. Patients may be more comfortable choosing a doctor who can speak their native language so they can confidently communicate complex and sensitive information to the provider.
- Interests or hobbies. Icebreakers are always helpful when starting new relationships, especially a relationship as intimate as the one a patient has with their doctor. Including simple interests or hobbies can make a provider more approachable.
Want to know more? Take a look at how Ten Adams leveraged provider profiles to grow market share for Witham Health Services.
These three areas of healthcare marketing are a great place to start if you are trying to improve the inclusiveness of your branding and marketing. There will be more work to do, but the important takeaways are to think about diversity beyond imagery, improve information accessibility through language and ability modifications and utilize providers to personify diversity, inclusivity, and equity values.
How can Ten Adams help you improve the inclusivity of your branding and website? Let’s talk.