Brigham & Women’s Hospital To Pilot Race-Based Preferential Treatment Program

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If you’re white and you go to Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, you might not receive the same quality experience as a nonwhite patient.

Guided by critical race theory, the hospital may no longer use color-blind policies to try to treat everyone equally. A Boston Review article titled  “An Antiracist Agenda for Medicine” lays out a pilot plan to “comprehensively confront structural racism” at the hospital. It is scheduled to begin late this spring.

“Together with a coalition of fellow practitioners and hospital leaders, we have developed what we hope will be a replicable pilot program for direct redress of many racial health care inequities,” Harvard Medical School instructors Bram Wispelwey and Michelle Morse wrote in the article.

Wispelwey is an Associate Physician in the Division of Global Health Equity at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Morse is the Founding Co-Director of EqualHealth and Assistant Program Director for the Internal Medicine Residency at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

They also explained what this “redress” could look like.

“Redress could take multiple forms, from cash transfers and discounted or free care to taxes on nonprofit hospitals that exclude patients of color and race-explicit protocol changes (such as preferentially admitting patients historically denied access to certain forms of medical care),” they wrote.

The two note that there could be legal challenges “from our system of colorblind law” but that they want other institutions to also pursue such policies in the name of “equity and racial justice.”

The two also suggest “a preferential admission option for Black and Latinx heart failure patients to our specialty cardiology service.”

So what will this all look like in practice? 

The hospital told The Washington Examiner that nothing is official policy for their entire hospital yet, but that they’re looking at ways “to improve access for patients who have been historically denied equal access.”

“The Brigham is committed to examining and eliminating the many impacts that racism has on the health and wellbeing of our patients,” hospital officials said. “As part of our system’s United Against Racism campaign, we support efforts focused on improving both the access and the experience of our patients, focusing on community health and advocacy, and increasing the diversity of leadership.”

“As part of this commitment, researchers have proposed a pilot program for heart failure patients that aims to address the racial inequities found in a recent study, which found that race, as well as other factors, affected who was admitted to cardiology service at the hospital,” the hospital officials added. “Aspects of this pilot program were described within the opinion piece you’ve cited. This program offers a critical step toward identifying opportunities to improve access for patients who have been historically denied equal access.”

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