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How Culturally Competent Care Can Help Health Outcomes
A recent study from the American Psychological Association has found that areas with higher level of racial prejudice correlate to worse health outcomes. These include higher mortality rates, mental health problems, and heart disease. As a community pharmacy, you can play a big role in helping to reverse these trends by providing culturally competent care.
Culturally competent care means demonstrating a knowledge and familiarity with people who have different beliefs, values, and healthcare knowledge. It’s a commitment to developing skills for patient-centered care with people from different racial, ethnic, and social backgrounds. What does this look like in practice? Engaging with your customers on a personal level to be able to ask and answer questions that can lead to better outcomes is one way. A good example of this would be asking patients about their symptoms, when they began, how do they think it was caused, and what do they know about their treatment? These sort of questions can open a dialogue that can reveal gaps in knowledge or beliefs that could prevent medication adherence or treatment from working as effectively as possible.
Providing culturally competent care goes beyond just facilitating closer and more personal relationships with your patients. It also means understanding cultural differences and being more accommodating to how they prefer to interact with health care professionals. For example, if you have hispanic patients, having a pharmacist who speaks Spanish is an obvious way to make them feel welcome and communicate effectively. Even if you don’t though, being aware of cultural differences like treating older hispanic patients more formally or that they might prefer shorter distances in communicating as many of their cultures prefer interacting in closer proximities can help cross cultural barriers.
Another barrier to providing care in a diverse community is access for patients. In some communities transportation and limited hours can be a real problem, and setting up a delivery service can both increase your business as well as serve people with limited transportation or mobility.
The real key that guides all attempts to provide more culturally competent care is a true desire to seek out and understand those whose experiences and values are different than our own. By showing your willingness to meet people on their own terms and learn about their mindsets, you can not only help serve higher risk communities and better health outcomes, you can also increase your customer base and bottom lines at the same time.