Article | April 24, 2024

What we all can learn from diversity – Don’t get stuck on this title!

I was lucky to attend the Maryland HFMA Conference “Inclusion & Equity in Health Care”.  I went not knowing what to expect, but I was captivated by the industry knowledge and sensibility from the speakers.  I learned so much about what is going on in Maryland and across the country – and really, as an “older white women”, a challenge to some things I really needed to think about and understand.

So, I’ll start with Roderick King, MD, MPH, SVP, Chief Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Officer for UMMS.  Yes, he had a lot to say about diversity.  Yes, I already know that the diversity with Kohler HealthCare provides me with personal and professional enjoyment and enrichment.  Through this diversity I have learned about an entirely different approach to strangers than what I grew up with.  The greetings and acknowledgement that others are “seen” and spoken to.   But he didn’t talk about that – it could be because he already knows and is part of that cultural difference.  What I found fascinating was how he challenges each member of the diversity work at UMMS, at each hospital, about whether their assumptions are correct.  Yes, he expects assumptions to be backed up with real data for the specific hospital.  The approach is not that whatever is going on with the downtown UMMS hospital should be applied to every other hospital.  It needs to be thought through to describe the impact on the community and to the cost of care.  What I heard was that diversity is important, but it should be meaningful and measurable.    It made me think about news articles that tell us that the “diversity officer” position in hospitals are being eliminated.  And, I think “why” – but with Dr. King’s approach, it must be that the “diversity” itself was the only goal rather than the many requirements found in Dr. King’s approach.

I have to admit that Dr. King came to this position with a lot of background and experience.  Not many organizations could be so fortunate to have some lead this goal of inclusion and diversity and understand the financial measurement as well as the theoretical (and well meaning) concept of a balanced work force.  (Ok, remember I’m A CPA, too.)

On another BLOG, I will talk about some of the other speakers and what I learned, but I want to make a few comments about our last speaker, Antionette Williams, Founder & CEO of Williams Consulting, who provides a lot of innovative AI work with the federal government and in particular with CMS.  I have noticed for years that the investigation of health providers has become much more focused on using real data from billing records.  I have had the belief that every health care provider should do their own analytics and “know themselves”.  Now I know that Williams Consulting has been instrumental in upping the government’s ability to see the data for potential fraud and abuse.  Ms. Williams started out as a nurse.  She has a passion for doing “right” – billing for the services actually provided.  This is the future, and it’s needed.

This blog post was created and shared by: Charlotte L. Kohler, President.