Dr Robert Like speaks on the role of cultural competence in fostering health equity
Dr Robert Like speaks on the role of cultural competence in fostering health equity

Healthcare systems need to be able to provide care to patients with diverse values, beliefs and behaviors, including tailoring delivery of care to meet patients’ social, cultural and linguistic needs, according to a visiting health expert.

Dr. Robert Like, Professor and Director of the Center for Healthy Families and Cultural Diversity, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in the US, made the comments at a lecture organized jointly by Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) Medical Education Department and Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar’s (WCMC-Q) Department of Global and Public Health.

During the lecture, Dr Like discussed the importance of healthcare policy, legislative, accreditation, and professional initiatives in addressing the disparities in providing culturally competent services to increasingly diverse populations:

Transforming our healthcare organizations and educating leadership and the workforce about the provision of high quality, patient-centered, culturally responsive and effective care is critically needed to help reduce disparities and foster health equity. HMC is growing dramatically. The quality of its services is increasing in many specialty areas, and HMC is serving a growing and diverse population,” Dr. Like said, referring to the influx of large numbers of expatriates.

There are approximately 190 languages currently spoken in Qatar. As the primary healthcare provider in the country, HMC cares for thousands of patients comprising Qatar’s multicultural and diverse population on a daily basis.

Dr Like emphasized that culturally competent care can help reduce patient anxiety and feelings of isolation:

Among the encouraging things that I saw during my visit to HMC was the development of the interpreter and language services, which will really help patients to better understand their medical problems and adhere to the treatment regimen as advised. This will lead to improved patient outcomes. I am hoping that the information we shared through our talk can further enhance what HMC is already doing.

Dr Like was joined by Dr. Jeffrey Ring, Director of Behavioral Sciences and Cultural Medicine at White Memorial Medical Center in the USA. Both were welcomed to HMC by Dr Abdullatif Al Khal, HMC Director of Medical Education. In their meeting with Dr Al Khal, Dr Ring and Dr Like discussed the significance of patient-centered care and the value of training healthcare practitioners in this area.