Allina Health works to fix implicit biases after health care disparity found among Black patients

Categories: Care, Community Engagement, and Featured.

Minneapolis-based Allina Health has been working toward health care equality after finding a disparity with its Black patients.

In 2018, Allina Health’s Health Equity Program received a disparity review from Health Catalyst, a healthcare data and analytics company. The data revealed that the number of Black patients enrolling for hospice care was lower than other populations. Allina then looked further at the issue and considered what was happening implicit bias — its staff were simply not referring their Black patients to hospice care at the same rate as others.

Vivian Anugwom, manager of Allina Health’s Health Equity Program, is working to improve this.

“People come to us when they’re most vulnerable. They trust us with their care,” Anugwom said. “How do we start looking internally and say, ‘As people who are providing care, how can we do better and ensure that everyone is receiving quality care?’”

In 2019, Allina Health specifically put an emphasis on the hospice referral disparity. Health specialists went through multi-hour sessions to better understand what implicit bias is and how their preconceived notions of people affected their work. According to Allina Health, many who went through the training did not realize the impact their biases had on their care.

Implicit bias often happens unintentionally, but Anugwom says it still has no place in the health care industry.

“Implicit biases is a human condition, right?” Anugwom said. “We all have implicit biases regardless of your background. It’s just that people of color tend to be the victims of that more often.”

A Black woman, Anugwom says her work — and this disparity — is personal.

“I’m tired of hearing about them. It’s now time to do something about it.”