Dec 5, 2023
Accessible Healthcare for All
In today’s rapidly evolving healthcare landscape, the pursuit of excellence goes hand in hand with embracing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) principles. An inclusive healthcare system not only benefits patients and staff with diverse needs but also elevates the standard of care for all.
According to the World Health Organization, about 16% of the global population lives with a form of disability, representing a substantial segment of healthcare users. Regardless of disability type – whether permanent, temporary, situational, or age-related, access needs can arise for individuals utilizing healthcare services. Providing accommodation for individuals with visible disabilities is not enough, as not all disabilities are immediately visible. Overlooking these needs results in excluding a considerable number of healthcare users. For instance, a patient with hearing impairment may rely on captioning during virtual consultations or prefer chat-based communication over video or phone calls when interacting with healthcare providers. Recognizing these varied access needs underscores the necessity to establish inclusive healthcare platforms.
Bringing Inclusive Design Principles into the Healthcare Space
Inclusive design isn’t solely about accommodation; it’s about ensuring equitable access to healthcare services. From language interpretation services and culturally competent care to accessible facilities for people with disabilities. Inclusive design fosters an environment where all patients receive quality care, regardless of their ability, background, race, gender, and age.
Incorporating inclusive design principles into healthcare product and service development demands a deliberate effort to cultivate a culture deeply rooted in these principles. A notable framework, the Microsoft Inclusive Design Principles, encompasses three core elements: Recognize exclusion, learn from diversity, and solve for one, extend to many.
Recognizing exclusion is pivotal in understanding how sensory abilities play a crucial role in engaging with both digital and physical environments. Exclusion arises when design choices limit the use of senses for interaction, creating barriers for individuals. Addressing these limitations involves actively acknowledging and rectifying design elements that hinder inclusivity.
Learn from Diversity
Embracing diverse perspectives is fundamental to inclusive design. The lack of diversity in perspective excludes underrepresented voices and hinders innovation within healthcare products and services. Learning from diverse perspectives facilitates the identification of overlooked needs, allowing for more comprehensive solutions that benefit a wider range of users.
When we consider diversity among users of healthcare products and services, we will create multiple ways to offer healthcare services and give users the flexibility of interaction in a way that is most suitable and comfortable for them.
Solve for One, Extend to Many
Inclusive design surpasses mere accessibility, aiming to benefit all users. Focusing on developing products for individuals with permanent disabilities often leads to innovative solutions that enhance the experience for everyone. Designing with inclusivity at the forefront yields outcomes that positively impact the broader spectrum of users.
Paving the Way for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in Product Development
Accessibility is a vital part of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) practices, serving as the foundational step for inclusive product design and development. Accessibility ensures that people with disabilities have the necessary access to enjoy the same products and services as everyone else.
As Sheri Byrne-Haber aptly expressed, “Accessibility is NOT a problem to be solved; it’s a culture to be built.” This statement emphasizes that creating inclusive products becomes challenging without an inclusive mindset. Echoing the sentiment that “You can’t offer what you don’t have.” To foster an inclusive culture, integration of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) practices into product development is the way to go. Additionally, concerted efforts are needed to align the goals and objectives of designers, researchers, and developers, ensuring that accessibility remains a central consideration at every stage of product development. Moreover, facilitating continuous learning and empathy-building is pivotal to supporting inclusive practices. Finally, establishing effective feedback channels from customers, clients, and patients with disabilities is a key step toward ensuring responsiveness in creating accessible products and services that are usable by all.
At Emids, we are dedicated to continuously evolving our practices, advocating for inclusivity, and embracing diversity in all its forms. By upholding our values, we not only enhance the quality of care but also contribute to a more compassionate and equitable healthcare landscape for all.