Spora is a Rosenman Founders Pledge and ADAPT company. From EBN

Your employees and their health needs are diverse, and the care they receive should be, too.

Telemedicine platform Spora Health has introduced a new virtual care network for people of color. Through its Spora Institute, the company already provides training for both physicians and HR professionals on how to provide more equitable care for people of color. Now, employees can tap into Spora’s Primary Care Network for People of Color to find qualified providers to better suit their unique health needs.

Healthcare inequality is a major barrier when it comes to healthcare accessibility and outcomes for people of color, says Dan Miller, founder and CEO of Spora Health. Just half of Black and Hispanic employees say they have access to high-quality healthcare, and nearly 70% of Black individuals avoid seeking medical care because they feel they’ve been treated unfairly, according to data from the Commonwealth Fund. Fifty-five percent of Black people say they don’t trust their medical providers.

“Historically in the U.S., healthcare plans have not been designed to take into account the culture of different populations, and the approach has been to treat every individual the same,” Miller says. “Providers in the U.S. just don’t have the skills to interact with different populations in different ways.”

This means that healthcare outcomes are typically worse across the board for people of color: African Americans have higher mortaility rates, are more likely to be overweight or obese, and suffer from other chronic conditions like asthma and heart disease, among others, than white people, according to the CDC and other scientific research.

Closing these gaps requires an acknowledgement that healthcare is not one-size-fits-all, and people of color may need different approaches and treatment plans, Miller says. The Spora Institute provides this training to the healthcare providers who use the platform, and are taught culturally competent care, which involves acknowledging the “lived experiences” of people of color, Miller says.

For example, Black men are often misdiagnosed or underdiagnosed for depression, because their symptoms manifest more verbally than depression in white males, Miller says. The Spora Institute trains providers to recognize the specific ways these and other health issues differ across cultures, so providers can make better diagnoses and get individuals the care they need.

“We also measure the experience after each appointment with the patient, and they’re letting us know that they strongly understand their treatment plans. They feel that they have enough time to communicate with their provider and ask questions and discuss treatment options,” Miller says. “They feel like their providers are making eye contact with them and they feel heard, which are all dynamics leading to inequities and disparities.”

Ensuring this care is available and accessible falls on employers, too, Miller says. Spora’s network will be an additional benefit for HR leaders to ensure they’re providing and benefits that serve employees of color specifically.

“Benefits managers and folks across HR were looking for this and were demanding this during 2021, in order to support their BIPOC employees after seeing low rates of utilization,” Miller says. “We want to partner with organizations and companies that want to pay attention to these issues and help underserved communities live healthier and more fulfilled lives.”