How health screening events are helping to overcome barriers to health equity

26 April 2023

Bringing healthcare access and education closer to Spanish-speaking populations with preventive screening in a mobile health clinic

On a bright February morning, Dr. Fabian Sandoval, MD, stepped into a Labcorp mobile health clinic parked outside the El Salvadoran Consulate in Washington, D.C. Recording a short video on his smartphone, the Colombian doctor highlighted the features of the unit and sent out a broadcast message in Spanish for people to come learn more about their health.

Dr. Sandoval released the video on TikTok in his native Spanish to let Spanish-speaking residents know the mobile unit was there as a part of a five-day health screening event with Labcorp. The event offered free preventive health screenings to the public, which included five lab tests, two eye exams and a blood pressure check provided by Emergency Care Research Institute (ECRI).

Bringing care outside of the doctor’s office

Valuable and important healthcare is increasingly happening outside the doctor’s office, helping to address disparities in health access, such as language barriers and mistrust. Dr. Sandoval is a shining example of this in action: by the end of the five-day event, he and his team had seen 229 patients who otherwise may have gone without healthcare for important issues.

Events like these are designed to break down barriers in healthcare—barriers like language, geography, education and, most importantly, access - creativity is needed to reach patients who might otherwise go underrepresented and underserved because of one or more of these barriers. Dr. Sandoval saw the mobile unit as a way to reach Spanish-speaking populations—a population with whom he has a strong connection—where they are, in their very neighborhoods.

Together, Dr. Sandoval and his expert staff provided more than just preventive screenings, with Labcorp conducting specimen collection and processing in the mobile clinic—they provided essential healthcare by removing numerous barriers with one powerful event.

Breaking down health equity barriers with patient outreach

One of the best ways to improve access to healthcare for underserved populations is by conducting patient outreach—meeting patients where they are. By taking the mobile clinic to the consulate near the El Salvadoran neighborhoods, Dr. Sandoval and the Labcorp team were able to meet patients where they lived, worked and built their community.

Research shows that patients who feel connected to healthcare and healthcare professionals like Dr. Sandoval and his team tend to be more actively engaged in improving their personal health outcomes and goals. Lindsay Morales, assistant director of site centric solutions for Labcorp, remembers one patient specifically—a man in his 40s who had never had blood drawn—and realized just how often primary care is taken for granted as an automatic feature of trying to live a healthy life.

Enabling health equity through education

Dr. Sandoval knew a large portion of the underserved Hispanic population in and around the El Salvodoran Consulate in D.C. had trouble with their eyesight. Vision loss and impairment are heavy issues affecting this population because of disparities in primary care education.

Many of the patients at the event were not aware they had vision problems—in fact, some even had pieces of metal and debris in their eyes because eyewear protection was not made a priority at work.

“Failing to provide healthcare for this population is a failure to society at large,” says John Kennett, director of global marketing for patient recruitment, diversity & inclusion in clinical trials for Labcorp. “On such a basic level, it was crystal clear that these people had very little access to proper primary healthcare at all, let alone access to primary care providers (PCPs). These patients needed someone in healthcare they could trust—and Dr. Sandoval represented exactly that.”

Breaking down health equity barriers with representation and language

Dr. Sandoval is a renowned doctor on his own merit—but he also knew his accolades weren’t what the patients sought during the event. People were looking for someone they could identify with to feel comfortable.

Diversity and representation initiatives like these play a vital role in building trust and broadening access to more patients across the globe. Events like this one can help—Dr. Sandoval is a known figure in the D.C. community. His presence on social media and his Emmy Award winning TV show “Tu Salud Tu Familia” (Your Health Your Family) on Telemundo and YouTube have made him a prominent healthcare figure in Spanish-speaking communities. Simply by being able to communicate in the same language, Dr. Sandoval is able to share how and why primary healthcare and health screenings are so important. He was there to provide one of the most important factors in healthcare access: trust.

“We can’t just say, ‘Here’s a flyer, good luck!’” says Dr. Sandoval. “You have to inform them, educate them. It’s not just about passing out the pamphlets, it’s about communicating the clear benefits of how it can impact their health.”

But it went even further than Morales and Dr. Sandoval could have imagined.

An elderly patient even approached Dr. Sandoval, seeking him out specifically because of his celebrity status in their community. She had received digital results from an appointment with her oncologist but couldn’t read the results because they were in English. These results were going to let her know whether or not her cancer was still active or had finally moved into remission.

Dr. Sandoval let the patient know she was cancer-free.

Moments like these, while heartwarming, also reveal the reality of barriers in access to healthcare in the USA. Dr. Sandoval and his team demonstrated the importance of getting routine primary care to over 200 people, and it’s clear that, with even more mobile clinical support, they could reach significantly more. Simply meeting patients where they are helps increase their chances of living a healthier life. By combining forces like Dr. Sandoval and Labcorp’s mobile clinic, healthcare access for all can be a reality, one patient at a time.