Just like in healthcare, pharmacies play a big role in helping patients improve their health. However, language barriers often make it a bit more difficult for limited English proficient (LEP), meaning they speak English “less than very well” and are entitled to assistance, patients and customers. When entering a pharmacy, it’s important for customers and patients to ask important questions such as how to take it or any side effects that may occur.  As pharmacies serve increasingly diverse populations, the demand for language access is becoming more important than ever.

 

The Center for Immigration Studies reports that one in five Americans (65 million people) speaks a language other than English at home in the United States. Just over 40 percent of these individuals are considered LEP. This LEP group represents about 9 percent of the total U.S. population. When language barriers occur, this can pose serious health risks or confusion to LEP customers. This can result in not having a good understanding of their medication instructions. 

 

Today, we will discuss a few ways language access can help pharmacists overcome a few of these language barriers. 

 

Improving Health Education

If you are prescribed medicine from your physician, being able to understand a pharmacist’s instructions is a basic requirement for health literacy. It is crucial for a pharmacy to be able to translate labels, questions or concerns into multiple languages to ensure customers will understand them. Translation services can also apply to patient instructions, warnings, package inserts, signage, and consumer medication information leaflets.

Some pharmacies even require a bilingual staff who can serve as in-person interpreters at the pharmacy. However, other pharmacies use professional video remote interpreting (VRI) or over the phone interpretation services to bridge any language gaps. 

Improves Customer Relationships

When you are able to understand your customers, it instantly improves the relationships. In any healthcare situation, especially in pharmacies, it is imperative that customers and patients can fully understand what they are being prescribed. By having an on-demand interpreter available, it can also help customers fill their prescriptions quickly and get their questions answered. 

Following Regulations 

According to Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act any pharmacy that delivers services while receiving federal funds (for example, Medicare and Medicaid) has to provide meaningful access to its services regardless of national origin. The act prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. What this means is that pharmacies are required to provide LEP customers with access to a qualified interpreter and translated prescription labels and instructions.

 

A Few Things to Remember…

 

  1. Family members are not qualified interpreters
  2. Most Bilingual Employees Are Not Interpreters
  3. Boostlingo can help with any interpretation services. Check it out here:  https://www.boostlingo.com/

 

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