CareAlign Launches New Feature to Improve Awareness of Bias

by | Jul 17, 2023 | Blog, DEI, Press

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Clinical-facing technology platform can now prompt users to reconsider nomenclature that perpetuates stereotypes among certain patient populations

Philadelphia, PA (July 11, 2023) ‒ CareAlign, a digital workflow platform for improving clinical care management, has released a new feature to combat decades-old stigmatization and unconscious bias that has been pervasive in healthcare. The application update includes automatic prompts for dozens of the most commonly used stigmatizing language terms.

Operationalizing years of user data from the platform and corroborated by independent medical studies, the goal will be to help shed light on discrimination and lead the industry toward a new standard for communication that avoids several categories of bias. These include: questioning patient credibility, disapproval of patient reasoning or self-care, stereotyping by race or social class, portraying the patient as difficult, and emphasizing physician authority over the patient. The feature is aligned with new guidance from The Joint Commission to improve health equity through ‘6 elements of performance’.

“Far too often, patients are objectified based on socioeconomic factors and the way they describe symptoms or recall personal medical history. We, as an entire industry, cannot be dismissive based on preconceived notions or subconscious biases from our own training,” said Subha Airan-Javia, MD, founder and chief executive officer of CareAlign. “Implicit bias is happening in every facet of our society, and this is a narrative that needs to be changed yesterday. Our research consistently shows that ‘nudging’ people – through technology – about the language they are using can influence habits in real-time as well as have long lasting effects in other aspects of workflow, so we are proud to make this part of our company’s mission and in support of The Joint Commission’s greater call to action.”

Airan-Javia, MD, began her work in stigmatizing language and implicit bias awareness when a patient she was treating was recorded as ‘refusing’ treatment. Subsequent care team members having read the word “refused”, approached the patient with consternation and on the offensive. When in reality, the patient was simply being inquisitive and trying to learn more about potential side effects. 

CareAlign, which works with leading healthcare institutions such as Crozer Health and Tandigm, built natural language processing of text into its user application to analyze word choice. The initial batch of flagged phrases and words include things like ‘non-compliant’, ‘super utilizer’, ‘addict’, and ‘complained’, to be replaced with ‘non-adherence’, ‘person who has had multiple admissions’, ‘person with a substance abuse disorder’, and ‘reported’, respectively. During the next three months, the company will compile data on how clinical teams engage with the feature, assessing how it impacts the quality of care.

“This detection system is helping me and other providers see how language that may seem harmless, can actually perpetuate bias and importantly, it makes it easy for us to correct that language without adding work to our day.” says Christopher Hwang, MD, Clinical Instructor in Geriatric Medicine and Director of Crozer Health’s Home Based Primary Care Program.

CareAlign’s focus on reducing administrative burden and duplicative documentation is the overarching philosophy behind the rollout, which will be optional for users. 

“As an industry, we have to do more than educate people about the presence of bias in medicine, we need to take action to reduce these biases and their impact. That is why we have custom built this tool that not only flags stigmatizing language, but provides education on why a particular word is problematic, and most importantly, make it as easy as possible to adjust the language. This multi pronged approach educates people on the issue, while improving care, & as research has shown, its impact will carry forward through to other care settings as well.”

To learn more about the impact stigmatizing language has on care, visit this resource page.

About CareAlign

CareAlign is an EHR-agnostic, device-agnostic care team collaboration platform. Spun out of Penn Medicine, CareAlign allows interdisciplinary teams of clinicians to work together on the real-time patient wiki and shared tasks list, even when clinicians are in different physical locations. The platform streamlines clinical workflows to enhance efficiency, improve outcomes, and prevent errors.