Dr. Sunita Mutha, Director of Healthforce Center at UCSF: Bridging Cultural Gaps to Provide Better Care

Dr. Sunita Mutha thinks if health care providers consistently asked themselves one question, it would lead to reducing health disparities based on race, income and other factors: “Who does this advantage, and who does this disadvantage?” In her extensive research at the intersection of health disparities and quality improvement, she’s come to understand there are predictable things providers do that influence inequities in care. Looking at the current COVID vaccine rollout provides a fresh example. “If your main strategy is to reach out to patients electronically, it leaves out people who don’t have online access, who might be monolingual, who might be elderly and isolated. You could have predicted who you would leave out by the strategies you chose to use.” As director of Healthforce Center at the University of California San Francisco, Mutha works with organizations nationwide to reduce disparities and build a culturally-competent workforce, but also to address a wide range of other challenges in healthcare, from the impact of electronic health records to nurse staffing ratios. As she explains to Futuro Health CEO Van Ton-Quinlivan in this episode of WorkforceRx, training emerging leaders is another special focus at Healthforce Center. “They are the glue that keeps an organization functioning and effective. They mobilize the frontline teams. So, in our training we try to instill in them both confidence and skills so they can be really effective.” Check out this episode for an expert view of current and future workforce challenges in healthcare, and the role of research and capacity-building to meet them.

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