When it comes to health care, quality medical interpreting can have a profound impact on patient outcomes.
Using professional interpreters reduces the risk to patients and enhances their health literacy, which in turn empowers patients to be proactive and experience better outcomes. Medical interpreting is a specialization with the field, as it requires a command of terminology and concepts.
A 2015 study in the journal Medical Care assessed the accuracy of medical interpretation during 32 primary care visits and found errors were twice as likely to occur when physicians used untrained interpreters compared to professional interpreters.
Nearly 7 percent of those errors could have had significant medical consequences, such as giving an incorrect drug dosage or inaccurately describing the patient’s symptoms.
By using medical interpreter certification as a standard process to qualify interpreters, you can ensure you’re providing meaningful language access for your patients. This enables your organization to comply with federal laws while also improving patient experience and outcomes. Additionally, it allows your organization to justify pay increases to bilingual employees and improves their own professional development.
Multicultural patients face multiple barriers to receiving care for depression such as scant referral options.
A Virginia-based health center's quality improvement project was able to significantly improve depression care for a vulnerable multicultural population, research shows.
Annual societal costs associated with depression are estimated at $210 billion, and depression is the top cause of disability globally. For minority, immigrant, or refugee patients,cultural factors often impede depression treatment.
"Improving depression screening should lead to measurable outcomes for those who screen positive, including referral to mental health specialists, prescription of appropriate medications, and perhaps most importantly, scheduling of follow-up appointments to monitor signs and symptoms of depression," said Ann Schaeffer of the Harrisonburg Community Health Center.
"There are multiple barriers. These include clinics not prepared with screening tools in multiple languages; providers not culturally aware of the stigma attached to depression; lack of provider confidence in client engagement; and few referral options for multicultural populations."
Each year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) conduct a Call Center Monitoring Study.
CMS performs the study between February and June by placing calls to Medicare Part C and D call centers to - among other thing - evaluate performance in assisting Limited English Proficient (LEP) and Deaf and Hard of Hearing callers.
A portion of the study measures the availability of an interpreter, as well as the accuracy of information provided by the customer-service agent. This portion is called the Accuracy and Accessibility Study.
There are massive financial and marketing implications to the CMS study, as plans earning four and five stars stand to net additional dollars in Quality Bonus Payments, as well as valuable opportunities to shop their plans. (Five-star plans are afforded the opportunity to enroll members throughout the year.)
Given these high stakes, it’s only natural that misconceptions would emerge as plans aim for the highest score possible.
Below are three misconceptions that we hear most often. We’ve researched each of these suppositions and are glad to explain the reality behind each of them.
The increasingly competitive healthcare market is facing the problem of balancing the need to deliver good clinical outcomes with demands for patient satisfaction. Patients and families are increasingly taking the initiative in steering their healthcare experiences.
While many healthcare providers and insurers succeed at delivering a positive in-language experience when limited-English speakers are in the building, this is often not the case when patients and beneficiaries have to connect with them by phone.
To remedy this issue, several high-performing organizations have implemented customized call flows that empower limited-English speakers to contact them with a qualified interpreter already on the line. Their patients and beneficiaries now have a seamless in-language experience from one end of a call to the other, making hang-ups and lengthy call-handle times a thing of the past.
This year’s open-enrollment period for Medicare will run from October 15 through December 7. Studies show that a large number of Medicare enrollees are considered limited English proficient (LEP), meaning they speak English “less than very well” and are entitled to assistance.
It’s no wonder that when Gonzalez was trained on LanguageLine InSight, a video-interpreting solution that delivers on-demand access to professional linguists in 36 languages at the touch of a button, he thought the technology was heaven-sent.