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Health For All

By Claire Knapp and Cath Brassington-Richards

Havas Lynx Group, a global healthcare communications agency, has been working closely with people who are taking action for equity, diversity and inclusivity (EDI) within healthcare to address how healthcare communications can make lasting change. The result is the launch of Health For All – an engagement in the conversation about EDI marked by the release of the 2021 Thought Leadership Initiative.

As human beings, we are all either consciously or unconsciously biased. Our bias is shaped by our own experiences and perspectives, and affects how we interpret the world around us – no matter how well intentioned we are, or how much we try to avoid this.

Working in healthcare doesn’t prevent this – a systematic review of 42 studies of implicit bias among healthcare professionals found doctors and nurses manifest biases to the same extent as the general public – in response to characteristics as varied as race/ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, age, mental illness, weight, disability, drug use and social circumstances.

It’s clear that change isn’t only a priority, but a necessity. Without making a concerted effort to progress beyond these norms, the result is bad science, poorer healthcare outcomes and inadequate communications.

At the start of our discussions, we were told that if the healthcare industry strove to make EDI a priority, it had the potential to ‘deliver results beyond the imaginable’. We agree.

Creating ‘Health For All’

Acknowledging the role we can play in perpetuating inequalities in healthcare, along with our own biases, is critical. When this project began, we quickly realised that we couldn’t do it alone – without centring those with lived experiences, it could never succeed.

We’ve been fortunate to have the support of experts who have been able to share perspectives, experiences and passion to help us develop something that is more diverse, more inclusive and more human; Professor Eleanor Stride spoke to us about how a more inclusive drug development process can bring new medicines to market more quickly, Dr Christine Ekechi provided insight into how overlooked patient populations can be identified at the point of diagnosis by tackling gender and racial biases, and medical student Shiron Rajendran discussed the importance of ensuring equity and accessibility in patient support for a meaningful impact on patient education and adherence.

From clinical research to the diagnosis and management of everything from asthma to oncology, we see opportunities at every contact point to improve the experience of people and communities who are currently underserved by our healthcare systems.

‘Leave no one behind’

An increasing number of organisations are recognising EDI as a priority – with the World Health Organization setting ‘leave no one behind’ as its guiding principle for the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

So, what can we do to align to this principle of leaving no one behind, to drive long-term change in healthcare communications? There’s no single answer. It’s a mindset shift that will shape the ideation, development and delivery of every piece of work we do, at every point of the patient journey we try to influence.

Ultimately, we want to see more work that reflects the world we live in, that captures different people’s realities in an honest and human way.

Read the full stories from our collaborators at https://nooneleftbehind.co.uk/

Thank you to everyone who has been involved with this ongoing initiative and for being so generous in sharing their perspectives, their stories, their passion and their talent.

Claire Knapp is Group Managing Director and Cath Brassington-Richards is Chief Growth Officer, both at Havas Lynx Group

In association with

17th September 2021

From: Research, Healthcare

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