May 7, 2024

UW Health earns national LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality Leader designation

MADISON, Wis. – UW Health has again received the LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality Leader designation from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.

The designation was awarded in the 16th iteration of the foundation’s Healthcare Equality Index, or HEI, released today. A record 1,065 health care facilities participated in the HEI 2024 survey and scoring process. Of those, 384 received the top score of 100, earning the LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality Leader designation.

“This designation is national recognition that we have an affirming community of care for our LGBTQ+ patients and staff,” said Shiva Bidar-Sielaff, chief diversity officer, UW Health.

This year’s HEI comes as LGBTQ+ adults are reportedly twice as likely as non-LGBTQ+ adults to be “treated unfairly or with disrespect by a doctor or health care provider,” according to the Kaiser Family Foundation (pdf). This, combined with a history of discrimination in health care settings, has the potential to cause even more LGBTQ+ people to delay or avoid seeking health care, which makes the HEI even more relevant for those looking to find LGBTQ+-inclusive care, according to Kelley Robinson, president of the Human Rights Campaign.

“LGBTQ+ people and their loved ones are looking for health care providers to offer and champion fully inclusive services, The Healthcare Equality Index is helping people find facilities where welcoming policies and practices are the standard,” Robinson said. “We know that LGBTQ+ people, especially our trans family, continue to face discrimination in the doctor’s office. No one should have to put their health on the back burner for fear of mistreatment in a healthcare facility or by their doctor.”

Key highlights from the report include:

  • Encouragingly, 71% of participants have an official plan for reducing health disparities that specifically includes LGBTQ+ patients in addition to race, ethnicity and linguistic concerns.

  • 53% have a policy or policies that specifically outline procedures and practices aimed at eliminating bias and insensitivity, and ensuring appropriate, welcoming interactions with transgender patients.

  • Major increases were seen in the number of health care facilities collecting sexual orientation and gender identity-related data in their electronic health records systems.

  • The ability to collect and display a patient’s pronouns rose from 44% to 74%. This is an important tool to help prevent misgendering a patient.

  • Now, 41% provide medical and comprehensive health benefits to domestic partners of benefits-eligible employees up from 34% in 2022.

  • More than 70% have an officially recognized LGBTQ+ employee resource group.

“We continue to be committed to fostering an equitable and inclusive environment at UW Health,” said Dr. Alan Kaplan, CEO, UW Health. “Receiving a designation like this again is confirmation that we are leading the way in policies and practices for a workplace and health care facility that welcomes everyone.”

About the Human Rights Campaign Foundation

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation is the educational arm of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) people. Through its programs, the HRC Foundation seeks to make transformational change in the everyday lives of LGBTQ+ people, shedding light on inequity and deepening the public’s understanding of LGBTQ+ issues, with a clear focus on advancing transgender and racial justice. Its work has transformed the landscape for more than 15 million workers, 11 million students, 1 million clients in the adoption and foster care system and so much more. The HRC Foundation provides direct consultation and technical assistance to institutions and communities, driving the advancement of inclusive policies and practices; it builds the capacity of future leaders and allies through fellowship and training programs; and, with the firm belief that we are stronger working together, it forges partnerships with advocates in the U.S. and around the globe to increase our impact and shape the future of our work.