Reflecting Health Equity in the US

Trends / Wellness
FG Trade
Rebecca Rom-Frank
Apr 18, 2023
The pandemic ushered in many shifts within the American healthcare system, including an increased focus on health equity. For brands and organizations looking to visualize their efforts, visuals can play an important role in signifying who clinical healthcare is for—and how to access it.
Visually communicating healthcare access
Our visual analysis found that healthcare brands primarily use visuals that show the doctors as the face of trust in 2023: "doctor and patient" was among the most‑searched terms, and 80% of the most‑used clinical care images showed this relationship. However, the unfortunate reality is that the pandemic left over 60% of Americans even more disillusioned with the healthcare system than before.1 As a result, people are increasingly looking for instant access to health information online, where misinformation can spread: 1 in 4 Americans now seek health advice on social media, rising to 2 in 5 for digital‑native Gen Z and Millennials.2  Our consumer survey confirms that 95% of American consumers want healthcare brands to offer products and services that are actually accessible to all. So to rebuild trust with American healthcare consumers post‑pandemic, consider visualizing the ways that clinical care has now become more accessible.

What does health equity look like?
We've addressed disparities in who is shown giving and receiving healthcare in previous articles, but health equity efforts also usually involve targeted services that make clinical healthcare more accessible to marginalized communities—for example, free health seminars, low‑cost services, mobile health screenings, after‑hours appointments, or employer‑funded programs.3 Telemedicine is one service that made health more accessible and adoption grew rapidly during the pandemic; from 2019 to 2023, usage of telemedicine visuals increased +412%. But that wasn't the only stopgap that sprung up during that time. Patient volume at smaller urgent care centers, often located throughout cities or in suburban strip malls, jumped 60% over the course of the pandemic, and people continue to think of them as the first stop before a crowded hospital emergency room.4 Other new services that expedite access to clinical care include high‑tech check‑in processes at clinics, community‑led initiatives, and services such as flu shots offered at the office. However, our visual analysis found that these important developments are rarely pictured by healthcare brands, as most waiting rooms and check‑ups appear to be in larger hospitals or clinics, and self check‑in iPads and QR codes are rarely incorporated into these settings.

As social determinants of health become an industry focus, addressing barriers to accessing care is an urgent priority, as well. Post‑pandemic, there is now an opportunity for healthcare brands to use visual storytelling to not only construct a narrative about care, but also directly communicate information about how to access care to the audiences who need to see it most. 
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