By Amy Crowley
The Health Collaborative is proud to present Juliann C. Parker, Senior Epic Analyst at The Christ Hospital Health Network with the 2019 Inspire Diversity and Inclusion Award.
This award celebrates the individual or organization committed to inclusiveness and advocacy for under-represented and minority populations, and for people of diverse cultures, backgrounds, and experiences in its overall policies, practices, and partnerships.
Parker has done just that through her ongoing work to help members of LGBTQ+ communities feel more comfortable and understood in the healthcare setting.
Healthcare visits are sometimes uncomfortable or embarrassing for any patient, but especially for patients from the LGBTQ+ population, who have historically experienced barriers to receiving care related to their sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.
Often the patient feels misunderstood and the healthcare provider may feel uncertain or confused. That’s because most patient information systems do not go beyond traditional gender and sexual orientation classifications. The only solution for many patients is to leave the box blank or be forced to choose a designation with which they don’t identify.
But the frustrations don’t stop there. Because of fear of judgment, members of LGBTQ+ communities may be more susceptible to various issues that affect their happiness and health such as depression, substance abuse, or even suicide. LGBTQ+ patients often feel vulnerable and afraid to be open and honest with their physicians.
“Like anyone, if LGBTQ+ patients don’t feel safe when seeking healthcare, they can’t get the care they need,” Parker explains. “Having a trusting and open relationship with healthcare staff and providers is key.”
Founded in Compassion
The Christ Hospital Health Network strives to live up to its “founded in compassion” mantra and to provide the best, most compassionate care to the Greater Cincinnati community. By continually reimagining what healthcare can be, its network of physicians and other providers aim to offer exceptional care that is more accessible and convenient to all of the communities it serves — including LGBTQ+ communities.
So when Epic, The Christ Hospital Health Network’s electronic medical records platform, announced plans for an upgrade in Spring 2019 that would include new data fields to better capture patients’ sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) information, Juliann Parker, Senior Epic Analyst at The Christ Hospital Health Network, recognized that this change would require training and resources for staff and physicians.
Parker immediately became a champion for the opportunities that the Epic upgrade would provide and requested to become the SOGI project manager. Over a period of six months, she was a tireless force in leading network-wide cultural competency training to ensure staff and physicians across the organization were prepared not only for the changes in Epic, but also for working with LGBTQ+ patients in a supportive and sensitive manner.
A Tireless Force
Juliann started by forming a SOGI taskforce with a diverse group of staff and physicians in various roles and departments around the network. The taskforce was broken into smaller groups to address each of the network’s various constituents. Juliann and her team researched educational materials and developed a robust resource library with data and information aggregated from the nation’s leading experts on SOGI. It was everything needed to empower the Network with a better understanding of patients’ needs related to SOGI.
Soon, Network patients were able to fill out their medical forms to not only include their legal sex or sex assigned at birth, but also their gender identity. This information, as well as a patient’s chosen name, were also used in more places throughout the chart and care delivery. These enhancements and the cultural competency training facilitated the best possible care for LGBTQ+ patients – including getting them the right preventative screenings, risk assessments and behavioral health care.
“Having a trusting and open relationship with healthcare staff and providers is key.”
“Juliann’s passion for this project was clear from the beginning,” said Dana Johnson-Perry, The Christ Hospital Health Network’s Diversity & Inclusion Council Co-Chair. “She took this work very personally and went above and beyond, including meeting with various members of LGBTQ+ communities, to make certain the proper terminology and practices were researched and implemented. We’re so proud of what she was able to accomplish and the impact this work has made on patient care.”
When the SOGI training was completed and the Epic upgrade was up and running, Juliann did not stop there. She became a vocal advocate, speaking inside and outside the network about the benefits and structure of these efforts. She also joined the network’s Diversity & Inclusion Council to continue making a difference for employees, patients and families.
Enhancing efforts to improve LGBTQ+ members’ health is necessary to help them live long and healthy lives. Juliann’s efforts at The Christ Hospital Health Network did just that as her dedication, vision and ongoing efforts drove positive changes for these often-vulnerable patients.
Congratulations to Juliann C. Parker and The Christ Hospital Health Network for committing to inclusiveness and advocacy for LGBTQ+ communities – we are INSPIRED.