Helping Hospitals Provide Culturally Appropriate Products for Diverse Patients while Supporting Supplier Diversity Goals

“Hospitals are providing high-quality culturally appropriate care that’s sensitive to an individual’s cultural identity or heritage. Vizient’s new Ethnic Hair and Skin Care Products category provides an opportunity for hospitals to provide culturally appropriate personal care products, helping patients feel as comfortable as possible during their hospital stay.” — Shaleta Dunn, Vizient’s associate vice president, member diversity & community initiatives

Imagine being admitted to the hospital unexpectedly. You had no time to prepare or pack any personal items. You wake up the next day and request personal care items from the hospital. Imagine that the shampoo and conditioner you receive are sulfate-free and have the added moisture your textured, ethnic hair needs to keep it from breaking. The comb you received has wide teeth, allowing you to gently comb your hair.

Non-clinical, personal care items like these for patients of different races play an important role in supporting a satisfying patient experience. And up until now, culturally appropriate products may have been difficult to source in the quantity and sizes needed for hospitals’ diverse patient populations.

That is changing as Vizient prepares to launch its new Ethnic Hair and Skin Care Products category that will enable members to select hair and skin care products for different ethnicities, including African American, Hispanic American, Asian and Native American.

“Every patient is unique, and hospitals are now focusing on providing high-quality culturally appropriate care that’s sensitive to an individual’s cultural identity or heritage. Vizient’s new Ethnic Hair and Skin Care Products category provides an opportunity for hospitals to provide culturally appropriate products, helping patients feel as comfortable as possible during their hospital stay,” says Shaleta Dunn, Vizient’s associate vice president, member diversity & community initiatives.

Member-driven solution that supports supplier diversity

Vizient’s Senior Program Services Manager LaSheia Strong describes how the new product category began. “We had several members reach out to Vizient asking if ethnic hair and skin care products were available,” says Strong. And though some products might be available through current distributors, Strong notes that there was no easy way for members to access those products. “That’s when the opportunity to create an entirely new product category that would allow members to easily access the types of hair and skin care products needed to support the expanding diverse patient populations was presented,” says Strong.

Vizient turned to its member-led Supplier Diversity Advisory Council and internal subject matter experts to provide feedback on the new product category and helped identify the specific hair and skin care products members wanted to have included.

Developing the new product category also provided an opportunity to search for certified diverse suppliers who can provide these products as a part of Vizient’s Supplier Diversity Program. The program helps support members’ goals of inclusivity and supply chain diversity and utilization by providing access to a diverse supplier base. Currently, the Vizient contract portfolio includes more than 200 agreements with certified diverse suppliers and small businesses across all categories.

“We worked to first identify certified diverse suppliers who are creating ethnic skin and hair products because they understand the population and what is needed in an inpatient setting,” notes Strong. As a result, a diverse supplier in California manufacturing ethnic skin and hair care products now has an opportunity to expand its business into the health care space. They, their families and the workforce also might be patients at the local hospital. “So right within that member’s community, this type of program supports not only the local business but also the workforce and the community economically,” Strong said.

Currently planned products for this new category include hair care items such as shampoos, conditioners as well as hair accessories such as caps, combs and brushes. Skin care items include body wash and moisturizers. But these products and suppliers are just the beginning. Dunn notes, “We’re also exploring bandages for wound care that match a variety of skin colors, specialized pediatric products and food options such as Kosher, Halal, vegan, gluten-free and organic.”

“Providing patients with culturally appropriate products is a logical extension of providing culturally appropriate care,” says Dunn. And Vizient’s new Ethnic Hair and Skin Care Product category benefits hospitals by supporting their supplier diversity goals and benefits suppliers by providing an opportunity to expand their business. “It’s a concept whose time is now and we’re proud to be leading the way for the hospital industry.”

Published: November 15, 2021