Breaking Bias in Health Care
Special Projects Fund
March 22, 2017
Unconscious biases are ingrained habits of thought that lead to errors in how people perceive, reason, and make decisions when interacting with others from different social, racial, and ethnic backgrounds.
In the health care setting, unconscious bias can affect a provider’s line of questioning and lead to misdiagnosis; it can also affect body language and other subtle cues that cause patients to lose trust, withhold information, or fail to follow medical advice. To address the impact of unconscious bias on health care, Be More America created a series of in-person training workshops designed to reduce physician bias in medical decision-making. Based on the success of the in-person workshops, it then developed a prototype online training program. In 2017, NYSHealth awarded a grant to Be More America to scale up this work by deploying the online training program at New York City-based hospitals.
Under this grant, Be More America implemented the online training program, Breaking Bias in Health Care (BBHC), in six New York City-based hospitals. Specifically, BBHC educated physicians about (1) the anatomy of bias in the brain and the nervous system; (2) the role of environmental stimuli, such as media, in reinforcing stereotyping and bias; (3) the impact of bias in the clinical encounter as shown through research; and (4) the role of bias in creating and sustaining health disparities. After receiving training, physicians and residents were introduced to BBHC’s online platform and associated app, which housed handouts and resources and allowed trainees to engage with other physicians through virtual learning communities. Be More America collaborated with Harvard University’s Project Implicit to measure and evaluate the impact of BBHC, as well as prepared a white paper to disseminate the project’s findings among researchers and practitioners.
Watch a TED talk by Be More Founder and CEO Anurag Gupta on how personal bias impacts society.