Humanizing Implicit Bias Training for Healthcare Organizations
Implicit bias training for healthcare organizations needs to be functional for a worker’s job description, helping to create a more usable framework.
Excerpt published with permission from PatientEngagementHIT
April 17, 2023 - Healthcare needs to get on the same page about implicit bias. Rather than thinking of unconscious bias as a scarlet letter, understanding that bias creeps into everyone from all kinds of sources—and that there is nothing we can do to stop it—will help health systems begin to rethink their implicit bias training strategies.
That’s at least where Danielle Brooks, director of health equity at AmeriHealth Caritas, starts when she holds implicit bias training sessions.
The Medicaid managed care organization (MCO), which serves 13 states and the District of Columbia, requires implicit bias training in some form for many of its employees, and it also offers training to its contracted providers.
The concept of implicit bias isn’t new, but the way healthcare experts think about its impact on medicine is relatively novel. While many organizations may say they have been doing health equity work for decades, one can appreciate the renewed energy these subjects got in 2020 after the initial COVID-19 outbreak and the nation’s racial reckoning in the wake of George Floyd’s murder.
As part of many healthcare payers’ and providers’ commitments to advancing health equity, many organizations have followed a similar path as AmeriHealth Caritas.
But it’s easy to misunderstand implicit bias and the intentions behind these trainings, Brooks told PatientEngagementHIT in a recent phone interview.
“Defining implicit bias is a tricky subject because it's something that everybody has,” Brooks stated. “Humans, just like any other animal that is out there, have instincts and other things baked into their way of being.”
“And for humans, implicit bias really is something that we develop from our lived experiences,” she continued. “Oftentimes when you hear implicit bias, everybody goes to the most negative thing possible, but it exists in so many other things.”