By John Lavey, President and CEO 
One of the great opportunities when you work with many different healthcare clients is to continue learning. No area has provided more opportunities for our team to learn than what we call “engagement.” 
We often think of engagement as a marketing activity. And, in part, it is. Engagement is about activating a patient, opening a channel of communication and then nurturing positive behaviors that drive positive health outcomes.  
But engagement is really a bigger discussion—and a more challenging problem—than simply marketing. Healthcare organizations can’t truly improve patient engagement without focusing on health equity. True engagement requires addressing health equity issues throughout your entire organization—not just in your marketing communications.  
Individuals from all walks of life—regardless of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, religion, sexual orientation, gender identify or disability—must be considered when we’re thinking about patient engagement. For example, mistrust in the healthcare system persists among many Black Americans because of a long history of mistreatment by the healthcare industry. And patients and family members with limited English proficiency often have trouble accessing healthcare services and suffer worse outcomes because of language barriers. Healthcare organizations must first address equity to truly engage patients.  
Some of our clients are tackling health equity head on—and finding solutions. I would challenge you to think about engagement and equity more broadly within your organization. It’s not strictly a marketing issue. So, what are you talking about when you are talking about engagement? 

Image: Getty Images

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