Live from HXD: A Framework for Designing Culturally Competent Care

A Framework for Designing Culturally Competent Care, by Benjamin Tingey

Our nation is complex and (wonderfully!) diverse. There are cultures within cultures. Ben works at Innovation Engine at Atrium Health, and they’ve created 4 pillars for a framework of cultural competency.

What is Cultural Competency?

The ability of systems to provide care to patients with diverse values, beliefs and behaviors, including the tailoring of health care delivery to meet patients’ social, cultural and linguistic needs.  -American Hospital Association

Why does it matter? Increasing patient satisfaction increases loyalty. Healthcare should not be a luxury. We have a moral imperative to care for people.

Ben’s team has worked on projects that help the Charlotte area address some of the health disparities, with a focus on co-designing with the community, and providing care that enabled minority communities to have ownership over their health.

Principles of Cultural Competency

  1. Seek first to understand, then to be understood. People start to heal when they feel heard – you must see people as they are, not as you are (to quote Brigham Young). In other words, providers need to understand the community they work in. They must demonstrate active listening.
  2. Design with, not for. We can’t design on behalf of others. We need to allow for self determination – designers are not the enlightened few. We need to allow for shared creative ownership with community members. People take ownership when they feel ownership.
  3. Prototype and test. The only way to purge your solution of unintended bias is to repeatedly test and get feedback from the cultural community. But remember: if you seek feedback and then disregard it, you’ll lose trust.
  4. Cross the “O” gap. It’s messy, but you have to get over trying to operationalize everything. You need to be willing to change – without standardization at first. We have to customize care experiences where appropriate.

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