13:57 PM

Dr. Michael Parks: Breaking Barriers to Health Care

The Arthritis Foundation highlights the work of HSS hip and knee surgeon Michael L. Parks, MD, to overcoming racial and socioeconomic barriers in health care.

Patients and doctors need to make decisions together for the best results. That’s especially true for people who have a history of mistrust in the health care system, as many Black Americans do, said Dr. Parks.

His and others’ research has found that African Americans — especially those from poor communities or who have less education are more likely to have poor outcomes from surgery and to require additional surgery resulting from complications. Research also has found that Black Americans are less likely to receive knee or hip replacement surgery and less likely to receive pain management than white patients.

That’s partly due to providers’ inherent biases, poor communication and because people in these communities are less likely to seek treatment, said Dr. Parks. 

“We've done studies where we looked at patients and how their perception of their interaction with the physician was, and many particularly African American patients who are women felt that their complaints were dismissed. So we have to think about that. What are our implicit biases or explicit biases when we're dealing with patients, and hopefully check those at the door and meet the patients where they are so that we can again treat them equitably,” he continued.

“The whole concept of shared decision-making is where you give a patient an array of options,” explained Dr. Parks. “I try to open a dialogue and make the patient feel comfortable with their questions. My role is to educate them, to tell them where I think they are, to give them my recommendations. And then I always tell them, "It's between you and that painful joint. It will often make you do something. I can’t make you do anything, but I think that’s going to lead you forward."

Read the full article at arthritis.org.