Reaching underserved communities is about being accessible

Jul 6, 2020
Reaching underserved communities is about being accessible

From digital strategies to physical outreach work, accessibility is key to ensuring invaluable health information makes it into the underserved communities who need it most.

Cancer rights attorney and co-founder of Triage Cancer, Monica Bryant, says the group has a variety of strategies to ensure its resources reach patients, care partners, families and healthcare professionals.

“We do a lot of grassroots outreach and often hear people say: ‘I wish I had known about you when I was diagnosed,” she says.

“That’s heartbreaking, because if we reached them earlier and helped them gain knowledge, they may have made different decisions,” Monica adds. “Our 2020 goal is to continue working to reach people sooner after their initial diagnosis and to use technology to do that.”

Currently, people tend to discover Triage Cancer through their healthcare providers, but Monica points out that the group also holds community events in underserved areas. “We host three conferences around the country every year and find underserved locations that don’t necessarily have access to national conferences. These are open to patients, survivors, caregivers, advocates and healthcare professionals.

“When we host a physical event in an underserved community, we are reaching those people who may not be able to travel,” she observes.

Digital access

Digital accessibility is also important, and the group will focus on improving its digital presence as well as continuing to host monthly webinars that are open to all.

“Our website is already mobile responsive – that is something that we feel very strongly about. People in underserved communities may not have access to computers, but most people have a smartphone they use to access the internet.

“We try to ensure our materials are mobile responsive, because we don’t want that to be a barrier.”

The team has already started to translate its materials into Spanish and is looking to do the same in other languages next year.

Overcoming barriers to care

“Arabic-speaking communities have very limited resources, for example, as well as some religious and cultural barriers to care,” says Monica.

Her top tip for other patient advocacy groups wanting to make their materials useful to a wider audience is to produce animated rather than live action videos.

“We made a conscious decision to take the animated route because we’re hoping that, eventually, we will be able to translate these into multiple languages,” she says.

“Once you have an animated video, translating the voiceover and the words on the screen is very low cost, but it has a high impact,” she finishes.

Reaching underserved communities is about being accessible

Author

Monica is a cancer rights attorney, speaker, and author, dedicated to improving access to, and availability of, quality information on healthcare-related issues.   Monica is the Chief Operating Officer for Triage Cancer, a national, non-profit organization that provides education and resources on cancer survivorship issues.

Throughout her career, Monica has provided hundreds of educational seminars, written articles and blogs, and appeared on community television and radio shows discussing healthcare-related legal issues.

Additionally, Monica is an Adjunct Law Professor at John Marshall School of Law in Chicago, teaching a class on Cancer Rights. Monica currently serves on the Executive Committee of the American Bar Association’s Breast Cancer Task Force.

Monica received a Bachelors of Arts degree in Law & Society, with an emphasis in criminal justice, and Psychology from the University of California Santa Barbara and a Juris Doctor from The George Washington University Law School. She is a member of both the California and Illinois State Bars.

 

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