Earnest Simpkins | Senior ETE Advisor

A scientist–turned artist–turned activist who’s passionate about HIV/AIDS prevention and care, youth development, health education, research, grassroots organizing, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) issues, civic engagement and the arts, in a social justice context.

Improving Health Outcomes 

When it comes to health care outcomes, I can put it into maybe two umbrellas. The first one is internal communication. I think that is extremely important, especially in health care systems, that number one, we make the un-discussable discussable. There should be healthy communication across the board. For example, there  should be a level of accountability for everybody that people don’t feel like just because they might not have the highest credentials in the clinic that they can’t contribute, that they can’t hold people accountable. I think that improving communication internally helps us better coordinate care to patients, and ultimately in the long term able to help us be more efficient and effective with healthcare.

In addition to that, I think the other umbrella is around health literacy. Many times when you look at the hospitals and how they are structured they are geared and built for healthcare professionals and physicians not necessarily patients. One of the one of the things that I find is a gap when it comes to patient engagement, is making sure that every single patient that we see, number one, they know what they’re there for, why they’re there, and why they have to take certain medications. Because one of the other gaps, which I think results in us being not as effective when it comes to costs which results in abuse and over utilization of emergency rooms.

The root of it all is health literacy. Sometimes it’s taking that moment, that extra time in every scenario, sitting down with the patient, making sure that they can actually teach back to you while they’re there and that they have a full understanding of how to take their medication, making sure that they are taking the proper doses and that they can communicate it back to you. If this cannot be done then we didn’t do a good job as healthcare professionals with communicating.