While the same proportion of Black and White patients say they are looking for a doctor with empathy and compassion, there are relatively large differences between patients based on their race, found in the Everyday Health-Castle Connolly Physician-Consumer study.
The survey was conducted in December 2022 among a group of 1,001 U.S. consumers and 277 Castle Connolly health care professionals.
As the first bar chart illustrates “where patients differ, “Black people were nearly twice as likely as white people (41 percent versus 22 percent) to completely agree that they would be more comfortable and more likely to listen to advice from physicians who shared their race or ethnicity or sexual orientation. Black people were also more than twice as likely as white people (41 percent to 17 percent) to completely agree that they would have better health outcomes with a doctor of the same race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation,” the study’s website explained.
When asked to rank what characteristics patients want in their physicians, more Black patients identified the doctor’s respect for an sensitivity toward my gender, race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status along with providing easy access to technologies such as online scheduling and telemedicine.
More white patients prioritized the doctor’s ability to listen to my questions and thoughts and clinical experience.
The bottom-line learning was well-articulated by Dr. Patrice Harris, a psychiatrist based in Atlanta, Everyday Health’s Chief Health and Medical Officer, as well as past president of the AMA:
“Based on history and prior experiences with the overall health ecosystem, many African Americans prefer a physician that can understand their lived experience, and who can understand issues around discrimination and prejudice and racism,” Harris noted.
Health Populi’s Hot Points: Emotional support is just as important as medical support, Accenture observed in the Health and Life Science Experiences study conducted in 2021.
Here is a snippet of how I explained the Accenture research here in Health Populi when it was published:
“Making healthcare more human begins with a step in the patient’s shoes,” Rich Birhanzel wrote in Accenture’s Humanizing Healthcare blog in July 2021. Some work-flows that health care stakeholders can take on to walk in those consumers’ shoes could include:
- Giving people access to all of their health data and tools to understand it
- Address health disparities at the root of the problem to help make health and wellbeing equitable
- Use technology creatively to de-fragment disjointed health experiences, and do so in personal and convenient ways
- Partner inside and outside of the legacy healthcare system to re-imagine health care through the standards of the best retail and consumer services
- Finally, blend digital, virtual, and face-to-face care to, in Accenture’s words, “provide effective, trusted and reliable services.”
As the French phrase goes, “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.”
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
My recommendations hold true in 2023, and especially tied to the Everyday Health-Castle Connolly study on what patients want in doctors.
Empathy and emotional support are also what patients want from the health system, writ large. Follow the work of Dr. Adrienne Boissy for smart and good guidance on this…