The limited English proficient (LEP) population in the United States is now larger and growing faster than ever. Which means, when it comes to medical care, there are many language barriers between the patient and healthcare providers. This brings many to wonder, how does language interpretation affect a Patient Centered Care approach to healthcare?
Remember the saying, “the customer is always right”? In today’s world of technology, information is accessible anywhere, anytime at the touch of a button, so the saying “the customer is always right” has never been more relevant for businesses, but does the same saying go for the healthcare industry?
The answer is yes, yes it does.
The bottom line is that if the patients can’t understand their doctor or nurse, they cannot take part in any of the decision making processes regarding their health. To bridge communication gaps, healthcare systems must partner with a language services provider.
In this post, we’ll explain how access to language support improves the patient experience and aids in better outcomes (two centerpieces of patient-centered care.)
What is Patient-Centered Care?
According to the Institute of Medicine, patient-centered care is “providing care that is respectful of, and responsive to individual patient preferences, needs and values, while ensuring that patient values guide all clinical decisions.” In other words, in more than just “bedside manner” it is more of a personal relationship, good communication and empathy between the patient and doctor.
Three Reasons Language Access is Needed When it Comes to Patient-Centered Care
The Growth of Language Barriers in the US
As we’ve mentioned, language diversity in the US has grown tremendously. According to the US Census Bureau, there are over 350 languages spoken in the United States and 25 million people in the United States are considered to be Limited-English Proficient. What this means, is that in order to maintain a truly patient centered care approach, healthcare providers need to ensure the highest quality language access for patients and consumers.
Reduces Patient Safety
When it comes to patient safety, this is a top priority for all healthcare providers. Which is why communication problems do not have to be an issue if a language barrier is present. When this situation occurs, patient safety is attained through interpretation services such as video remote interpretation which is accessible within minutes. By using Certified Medical Interpreters who are trained in medical terminology this will decrease communication problems that can cause major safety events.
Influences Patient Satisfaction
When there is better communication between doctors and patients, there is a high chance for patient satisfaction. For example, your doctor is saying “take this medicine and let me know if you begin to have any problems”. When patients and doctors are able to understand each other the patient will report higher satisfaction, reduced symptoms and ultimately, better health outcomes.
As the healthcare industry continues to evolve and convey towards patient-centered care, and language barriers continue to grow, improving language services should be a priority for healthcare organizations.
Patient-centered care is beginning to gain traction. Healthcare systems can, and are boosting the quality of care they provide by leaning in on the patient-centered care model, and improving language access to their limited-English-speaking patients.