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How the Growing Diversity in Healthcare will Impact Staffing

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Kerry Fuqua
on March 16, 2016

What is the ‘majority-minority crossover’ and why should I care?

It’s not news that the U.S. population will continue to become more diverse.  What is surprising is just how quickly our diversity is increasing. 

By 2044 the ‘Majority-minority’ crossover will occur, meaning that while the ‘non-Hispanic White’ population will likely remain the largest single group, no single group will have a majority share of the total. In short, ‘the U.S. will become a ‘plurality’ of racial and ethnic groups’. What’s even more surprising is that children aged 18 and under will reach this majority-minority crossover in 2020, just four years away! 

While the white population will maintain, other populations will continue to grow exponentially. By 2050 the Hispanic and Asian populations will both triple, the black population will almost double, and the white population will barely hold its own1

So what does this mean to healthcare? Well, consider that although minorities represent approximately 29% of patients nationally, they comprise only 14% of hospital board members and an average of 14% of leadership positions, according to the American Hospital Association (AHA) and the Institute for Diversity in Health Management2. This is obviously a large difference between patients and healthcare leadership. 

The benefits of increased diversity and cultural understanding within healthcare organizations are significant, and directly impact patient outcomes. Increased diversity and cultural understanding not only increases patient satisfaction and HCAHPS scores, but also increases innovation. 

We can provide better patient care if we understand and represent the diversity within our patient base. Understanding differences in languages, beliefs about medicine, death, and afterlife, will help all healthcare professionals to relate to their patients and prepare themselves for sometimes difficult conversations. If your healthcare professionals have empathy and understanding of the culture of their patient, they will be better able to have conversations and propose courses of action for their patients. 

As Sheriee Ladd, Senior Vice President of HR for Indiana University Health and a PeopleFluent customer, states: “For us, having an inclusive workforce is a strategic imperative. To serve our patients, we have to respect them. To respect them, we have to know them. Then we can trust one another, and then we can help heal.”

‘Increasing the diversity of the healthcare workforce improves patient satisfaction, healthcare utilization patterns, and access to care for minority patients’3

One specific strategy you can implement to improve your HCAHPS scores is to increase diversity and make your diversity and inclusion programs a strategic priority throughout your organization. ‘Hospitals with greater cultural competency have better HCAHPS scores for doctor communication, hospital rating, and hospital recommendation’.4 

And it’s not just patient satisfaction. A workforce that is culturally diverse and inclusive will also enhance productivity and innovation. Workforce cultures that are inclusive and value diversity, ’enhance productivity and innovation’1 with a variety of viewpoints and expertise on the subject. So consider your current diversity and inclusion programs, and the impact you can have on patient outcomes and innovation by executing and growing these programs.  PeopleFluent is here to support you, with services through the PeopleFluent Research Institute and healthcare talent management solutions that can help ensure you are hiring the right mix of diversity staff and with systems that help you to execute on those diversity and inclusion programs. Or check out our white paper on how to improve the leadership diversity within your healthcare organization. 


1Salisbury, Jan, Byrd, Sam.  “Why Diversity Matters in Health Care”.  CSA Bulletin.  2006. 

2Increasing Diversity in Governance and Management, Thomas C. Dolan, PhD, FACHE, CAE, President and CEO, American College of Healthcare Executives, Journal of Healthcare Management 58:2, March/April 2013 

3Institute on Assets and Social Policy.  “Improving Quality and Performance:  Cultural Competence and Workforce Diversity Strategies”.  The Heller School for Social Policy and Management. January 2016. 

4Weech-Maldonado, Elliot, Pradhan, Schiller, Hall, Hays.  “Can Hospital Cultural Competency Reduce Disparities in Patient Experiences with Care?”.  Med Care.  2012.  


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