increase business leaders’ awareness of racial and ethnic disparities in health and access to health care and the implications of these disparities for employee productivity and well-being. WBGH is exploring ways in which businesses can become involved in solutions to improve the health and productivity of all its employees, serving as an information source to employers on health disparities and providing the tools and resources necessary to address the health needs of their diverse employees. For example, WBGH recently introduced a computer-based evaluation tool to assist health plan purchasers in assessing efforts by health plans to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in care, including tools to assess the diversity of health plan providers.
These local and national efforts share a common goal: to increase understanding of the imperative to enhance diversity among health professionals and to build consensus among a range of stakeholders regarding steps that should be taken toward this goal.
Recommendation 7-2: Local and national efforts must be undertaken—through community dialogues, forums, and other educational initiatives—to increase understanding of the imperative to enhance diversity among health professionals and to build consensus among a range of stakeholders regarding steps that should be taken to achieve this goal.
Educational efforts, as well as institutional and policy-level interventions to increase diversity, represent only the first steps toward action in support of institutional and policy-level strategies to increase diversity. Just as important are efforts to build coalitions of broad stakeholder groups—including, as identified above, health professions leaders, health-care consumer groups, grassroots and community organizations, business leaders, educators, and others—that can provide effective advocacy for change. Such coalition-building and advocacy can be viewed within the framework of community benefit principles discussed in the previous chapter. Community benefit principles provide insights for the public expectations of both nonprofit health-care providers and institutions that train these providers. Just as nonprofit hospitals are expected to play a role in addressing priority unmet needs in local communities, HPEIs can appropriately be expected to play a direct role in responding to priority unmet health needs at the local and/or societal level. Community benefit principles should therefore form a conceptual cornerstone by which health professions education accreditation organizations and state governments can set expectations for the advancement of societal goals tied to racial and ethnic diversity of the healthcare workforce.