Compass: Hennepin Healthcare’s Innovative Program to Combat Healthcare Disparities

Compass: Hennepin Healthcare’s Innovative Program to Combat Healthcare Disparities

Hennepin Healthcare in Minneapolis is taking a proactive approach to address racism within its institution and the broader healthcare system. In an atypical move, the hospital has implemented an intensive diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) program called Compass. This program requires all staff members to participate in monthly sessions that focus on discussing and learning about racism, marginalized communities, and microaggressions.

While many healthcare organizations have DEI programs, Hennepin Healthcare’s initiative stands out for its comprehensive and mandatory nature. The program utilizes documentaries, podcasts, and instructor-led conversations to educate staff members and aims to translate the knowledge gained into clinical practice.

Hospital leaders recognize the significance of addressing disparities in care for people of color, as Hennepin Healthcare serves a diverse population, including marginalized communities. By committing to DEI training, the institution aims to eliminate racism in healthcare and improve outcomes for all patients.

The program has faced challenges, with some employees choosing to leave the institution because they were uncomfortable with the required training. However, hospital leaders firmly believe that prioritizing the well-being and mental health of patients is more important than potential discomfort or offense caused to certain individuals.

Hennepin Healthcare’s approach to DEI training differs from the common practice of partnering with external organizations. Instead, leaders within the institution developed Compass to provide an in-depth understanding of racism and discrimination in healthcare. By leveraging their unique position as a teaching institution and a level one trauma center, the hospital aims to make a significant and bold statement in addressing these issues.

Implicit bias and discrimination in clinical settings have been shown to contribute to worse health outcomes for people of color. Minnesota, in particular, faces significant health disparities among its diverse population. Research has linked implicit bias to issues like inaccurate diagnosis and limited pain management options.

By addressing racism and discrimination head-on, Hennepin Healthcare aims to bridge the gaps between healthcare professionals and people of color. The program recognizes that social determinants of health, such as access, education, and economic stability, play a crucial role in patients’ well-being.

While challenges persist, the Compass program represents a positive step towards improving health equity within the institution and the broader healthcare system. By raising awareness, fostering dialogue, and addressing bias and racism, Hennepin Healthcare aims to create a better healthcare system for all individuals, regardless of their background or identity.