Focus on DEI Drives Revamped Patient Outreach Program

The Endocrine Society’s rejuvenated patient outreach program aims to help build health equity and improve access to care in underserved communities. Its members were instrumental in planning the initiatives, which have already exceeded funding expectations.

A rebooted patient outreach program by the Endocrine Society will concentrate on diversity, equity, and inclusion with programming and research specifically designed to benefit minorities and underserved communities.

While the group had a longstanding history and commitment to DEI, over the past three years it recognized a need to change the way it works and engages with the community.

“Membership societies have traditionally looked to foundations to serve the public,” said Endocrine Society Chief Learning Officer Christopher Urena, CAE. “But we challenged that status quo.”

The society saw it was in a unique position to bring together a group of leading experts from around the world and put them in touch with people in communities who need their services. And they wanted to do more than just put out resources and hand out pamphlets. They knew that many people who are affected by endocrine conditions—which include diabetes, metabolic syndrome, osteoporosis, and obesity—are in underrepresented communities.

“We felt we could make a demonstrable impact in changing the healthcare outcomes of those groups in a much more positive way than ever before,” Urena said.

The new online content hub, which debuted last week, includes a redesigned version of the Menopause Map, an interactive tool to help women learn about menopause and start important conversations with their healthcare providers and peers.

The program also includes EndoCares, a series of four in-person health education events in U.S. cities this year—twice the number it has held previously. The flagship event will take place in Atlanta in conjunction with the society’s annual meeting, ENDO 2022, in June. San Francisco, Baltimore, and Seattle also will host EndoCares events.

In creating the programs, the society looked at real stories in the community it could put science behind and help people in a meaningful way. Members played an integral part in the process. “Our members are very reflective of the audience we’re looking to serve, bringing not only their expertise, but helping us with language barriers and cultural barriers,” said Lynette Fludd, M.Sc., CHES., associate director of patient engagement. “They’re the ones at the helm of helping us make sure this can grow and be really impactful.”

The creation of new staff roles also helped the group move forward with its DEI initiatives. In September, the group promoted Rodneikka Scott, CAE, to a new executive level role: chief membership and diversity programs officer. Scott previously served as the director of membership and engagement.

Sustainability of the initiatives was a concern at the outset, and to finance them the group had to be creative. Their sponsors, partners, and other agencies were all committed to DEI, but the society knew it had an advantage because it has access to the key opinion leaders, experts, and the community. So far, funding from those stakeholders has exceeded expectations. “We’ve got financial commitments for 2022 and 2023,” Urena said.

Since a lot of programs can get stalled because of a lack of resources, Urena recommends looking at alternative models of funding. “There is a high likelihood it exists,” he said. “It takes some legwork to get there, but once it’s been frontloaded, you’ll see that lots of people are making that commitment [to DEI] and they’re putting their money where their mouth is.”

Putting the program together was a team effort. “It was a collective approach from the Endocrine Society as a whole to say we’re going to move in this direction together,” Fludd said. “It’s something we are proud of, and our sponsors and partners can really get behind because it’s embodying our vision of doing well by doing good.”

(PeopleImages/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Lisa Boylan

By Lisa Boylan

Lisa Boylan is a senior editor of Associations Now. MORE

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