The Impact of Cultural Sensitivity in Healthcare

Categories: HealthCare

Culture is a term that describes patterns of a people’s way of life in terms of customs, beliefs, values, language, ideas and social behavior. A diverse culture poses an opportunity and a challenge to healthcare systems, payers and policymakers in the quest to create and deliver outcome based services.

Culture influences how people perceive and approach all aspects of their health. It shapes their beliefs on the causes of conditions and the selection of a treatment plan. Some communication preferences and the willingness to seek and follow a doctor's recommendations may also be traced to a cultural norms.

Evolving Demographics Requires Cultural Sensitivity

The U.S. is undergoing striking changes in their population demographics, which will greatly impact healthcare, research and health psychology. The population continues to diversify at a quick pace. African-Americans, Asian-Americans and Hispanic-Americans represent 138 million people, approximately 40% of the population. According to the U.S. Census, the nation will be a multicultural majority nation by 2044.

There is an immediate need for healthcare professionals to understand, respect and create strategies to care for different cultures to improve treatment compliance and outcomes. Institutionalizing this practice in the organization’s education and training, hiring practices, research, care paths and community outreach will go a long way in making an impact on population health.

Create Cultural Competence in Healthcare Through Connection

Using human-centered to design to craft solutions that help reduce health disparities can be achieved by connecting with patients in a way that resonates for them to get the right care.

For instance, to effectively enhance cultural competence in healthcare organizations:

  • Identify and highlight disparities by population
  • Create patient journey maps that include cultural segments to identify a critical path
  • Design training programs, internal communications and patient material that is linguistically and culturally sensitive
  • Focus on the shared human values of safety, respect and belonging

Bluespire’s Approach to Culturally Competent Healthcare

Leveraging a human-centered design approach to develop a deeper understanding of cultural barriers to care, engages the community and creates long-term patients and advocates.

Personal healthcare beliefs are often influenced by past generations and behavior that individuals have observed in their own cultural experience. For example, the Hmong did not have a written language until the 1950's. They relied on oral communications and storytelling with tribal beliefs. Some cultures often use home remedies to avoid care providers due the cost and a clear understanding of care practices in their cultural context. These cultural beliefs, practices and barriers impact engaging with diverse communities successfully.

Bluespire uses human-centered design in addressing challenges and extracting insights that may not be obvious. Human-centered design does not reduce health disparities; however, it is a path for healthcare organizations to identify and understand the unique needs of different patient populations to improve communications and ultimately enhance outcomes.

A journey map such as this, includes all touchpoints from the member application process to re-enrollment.
It allows you to pinpoint improvement opportunities and implement strategies to meet your goals.

Bluespire has successfully worked with a range of clients to engage diverse communities and populations:

  •  A Medicaid health plan seeking to engage a diverse member population: Using human-centered design principles, Bluespire identified strategic pillars to guide branding that focused on identifying values (desire for respect, security, belonging and access to care) which were inclusive and brought the community together.

  • A diverse healthcare system with urban and rural locations: Patients ranged from wealthy to impoverished, across multiple ethnic populations including a high percentage of recent immigrants. A “one size fits all” approach did not fit any aspect of the program — digital campaigns spoke to hyper-local demographics and cohorts through specific messaging and media placement. It was essential to have a deep understanding the role of family, mobile device usage and seasonal impact of the work within a specific Hispanic migrant agriculture population.

Why Bluespire

Bluespire is a performance marketing agency that focuses exclusively on complex, highly-regulated and compliance-driven industries of healthcare, senior living and finance. Core to our DNA is industry specific expertise in marketing, technology and content. Bluespire has a Mar•Tech™ SaaS, scalable platform, C2, that enables clients to stand up digital properties fast, effectively convey their brand message, and execute high-performing awareness and acquisition experiences.  Delivering exponential marketing ROI is the focal point of our deep insights, rich analytics and precision-driven execution. Clients seek our agile centers of excellence for innovative solutions across strategy, content, creative, web development, digital marketing (SEO, Paid, Programmatic), traditional media placement (TV, Radio, Print) and marketing automation. Visit


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