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New Consumer Research Shows 1 in 4 Patients Concerned About Discrimination in Healthcare

  • Shared Traits Common Between Patients and Providers

HealthSparq, a healthcare guidance and transparency company, announced new consumer research on how discrimination shapes healthcare interactions and provider selection. The survey found one in four people are very or extremely concerned about discrimination in healthcare due to their race or the language they speak. These and other survey findings highlight the unique opportunity health plans have to address system inequities by helping patients find providers they trust.

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Notable findings include:

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  • Nearly half of people who identify as LGBTQ feel they have been discriminated against based on sexual orientation.
  • Among African Americans who have experienced discrimination, 77% feel it was due to their ethnicity or race.
  • Shared traits are extremely common between patients and providers: two-thirds of respondents reported having a doctor of the same gender. Shared race is also frequent.
  • When selecting providers, location and gender are more important when it comes to choosing a PCP, while specialization, experience, affiliation, and education/training are more important when choosing a specialist.

Discrimination not only impacts the care people seek, but being discriminated against drives them to take action. When faced with discrimination, 61% report switching providers, 21% discuss the discrimination with someone else at the provider’s office, and 7% change insurance coverage.

“Both data and personal stories continue to underscore that healthcare isn’t equitable in this country. Factors such as race, income, and zip code result in lower quality healthcare and outcomes,” said Mark Menton, General Manager of HealthSparq. “With this survey, we wanted to find out what’s most important for people in historically underrepresented groups as they navigate healthcare and choose providers. We found that people often seek providers they share traits with, like common language, gender and race. In fact, shared traits seem to be a powerful indicator of the patient-provider relationship. About half of consumers feel that having shared traits with their healthcare providers assures better care and more open discussion.”

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The survey revealed what people look for when selecting care, which coupled with findings related to discrimination, present an opportunity to help connect patients with the providers they want most. In addition to shared traits, respondents reported a variety of characteristics important when researching providers or selecting a new provider, with quality of care at the top of the list, followed by education, ratings/reviews, specialization in age/condition, and treatment philosophy.

Six in ten respondents report using their health insurance plan’s website to gather information on providers, which underscores the important role health plans have in facilitating trusting relationships between patients and providers. By offering more robust provider information in their online directories, health plans can enable individuals to self-select a provider who they share traits with and can trust. While sharing more detailed provider information will not solve decades of unequal access to care and discrimination, it is one step in the right direction to improving access and outcomes.

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