The need for language services in healthcare settings begins when there is a language barrier with a limited-English proficient patient that impacts communication. When language barriers arise in healthcare, professional interpretation and translation services need to be utilized at every step of a patient’s care for compliance with Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, which requires the use of a qualified interpreter for every patient encounter with Limited English Proficient or Deaf or Hard of Hearing patients.
Research has found the use of professional medical interpreters to positively impact patient care. In fact, “Use of professional interpreters is associated with improved clinical care more than is use of ad hoc interpreters, and professional interpreters appear to raise the quality of clinical care for LEP patients to approach or equal that for patients without language barriers.”
For a deeper understanding of how language interpretation in hospitals impacts LEP patient care, check out these 16 facts on language support needs and patient communication.
16 Facts About Limited English Proficiency and Patient Communication
1. Limited English Proficiency: One in eleven U.S. residents speaks English “less than very well. –US Census Bureau.
2. Sentinal Events: 21% of sentinel events are caused by miscommunication (3rd most frequently identified root cause for sentinel
events). – Joint Commission
3. Adverse Events: 9% of the United States population is at risk for an adverse patient safety event as the result of a language discrepancy – Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).
4. The Price of Miscommunication: Out of 7,149 cases reviewed, 30% of medical malpractice lawsuits cite miscommunication. – CRICO Strategies
5. LEP Trends: Between 2000 and 2010, the Hispanic-origin population increased by 43%, which accounts for more than half of the 27.3 million increase in the total population of the United States in that decade.
6. LEP Population Growth: Since 2000, the Asian population has increased by 43.3%, making it the fastest-growing major racial group.
7. LEP Readmission Rates: Racial and ethnic minorities are more likely to be readmitted for certain chronic conditions than their non-Hispanic white counterparts. – NCBI
8. Health Literacy and Communication: LEP patients have greater difficulty understanding discharge instructions, including how to manage their condition, take their medications, recognize symptoms that should prompt a return to care, and know when to follow up. – NCBI
9. CMS Star Ratings: Hospital readmission rates can be a financial risk for health care systems, who may receive penalties for excessive readmission rates. In addition to penalties, readmission rates can significantly impact hospital CMS star ratings. – CMS
10. Readmission Penalties: In 2015, Medicare fined a record 2,610 hospitals with readmission penalties. – Kaiser Health News
11. Follow-up Care and Medication: LEP patients are less likely than English-proficient patients to understand critical information regarding follow-up appointments and medication category. – NCBI
12. LEP Patient Outcomes: Non-English speaking Latino and Chinese patients have a higher risk of readmission. – Society of Hospital Medicine
13. Positive Impact of Language Services: Trained medical interpreters can reduce errors in care for patients with limited English proficiency.
14. Reducing Miscommunication Errors: The odds of a clinically significant error were about 75% lower in visits with trained interpreters compared to ad hoc interpreters. – Medical Care, American Public Health Association
15. Higher Rates of Physical Harm from Adverse Events: About 49.1% of limited English proficient patient adverse events involved some physical harm whereas only 29.5% of adverse events for patients who speak English resulted in physical harm. – NCBI
16. High Prevalence of Health-Related Concerns: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reports that in addition to high readmission rates, racial and ethnic minorities (including LEP patients) also present a higher degree of certain health-related concerns, including:
- An increased risk of longer stays at the hospital
- Higher rates of anxiety and depression
- Less access to primary care providers
- Inadequate follow-up care after discharge
- Multiple co-morbidities
- Socioeconomic pressure (e.g. underinsurance, social isolation, housing and food security issues, lack of access to transportation, lack of employment opportunities)
Video Guide: Best Practices for Using Telephonic Interpreters in Healthcare
Understanding simple best practices for using telephonic interpretation in healthcare helps facilitate meaningful communication between healthcare providers and Limited-English Proficient (LEP) patients.
The Importance of Language Interpretation in Hospitals:
- Enhances customer/patient satisfaction
- Reduces miscommunication errors
- Most cost-effective interpretation solution
- Improves efficiency
- Increases productivity and staff adoption
- On-demand interpretation services provide a fast response for urgent or emergency situations
The growth of language diversity in the United States makes interpreter services a valuable part of patient care at every touchpoint of the patient journey. When a patient seeks medical care, effective communication is at the center of positive health outcomes, but when there are language barriers, qualified interpreters will have a positive impact on patient care, including a higher quality of clinical care, improved care, higher levels of patient satisfaction, fewer communication errors, a greater comprehension of diagnoses and follow up care instructions, and lower rates of readmission.
Language Interpretation in Hospitals: Solutions for Every Patient Encounter
Telephonic Interpretation is an on-demand, remote interpreting service that offers a fast response when urgent or unexpected language barriers comes up. Telephonic interpreting offers a cost-effective interpreting solution and is perfect for most spoken language interpreting situations that do not require non-verbal cues or visual contact with the interpreter.
Available at a low per-minute rate, Telephonic Interpreting allows medical professionals to connect to a certified medical interpreter in seconds, in over 300 languages. Telelanguage’s proprietary technology ensures that there are no outages during national emergencies.
Hospitals must move quickly to resolve language barriers, and Telelanguage provides the fastest connect times in the industry (average time is 7 seconds).
Video Remote Interpreting is an on-demand interpretation solution that bridges the gap between over-the-phone interpreting and on-site interpreting. It can also be extremely cost-effective in healthcare settings because no minimum hours or mileage reimbursement are needed to gain access to the interpreter (as might occur with an in-person appointment).
Rural area hospitals can also improve LEP patient care with Video Remote Interpretation (VRI), where access to language interpreters may be limited.
Using leading-edge technology, Video Remote Interpreting is a perfect on-demand solution for hospitals and healthcare systems who require a fast response.
On-site interpretation can be the right solution to support LEP patient care for lengthy appointments or interviews planned in advance. When a conversation will be complex or time-consuming, in-person interpretation will help reduce patient stress and ensure meaningful communication. A few other instances where on-site medical interpreters are beneficial may include when many patient appointments are scheduled close together, and when the patient prefers to have an interpreter physically present.
Medical situations can cause stress for anyone, but when there is a language barrier, having an interpreter present can greatly reduce the stress for the LEP patient. When a situation arises where you need an on-site interpreter fast, Telelanguage can have a certified medical interpreter at a location in as little as 30 minutes.
Medical documents and patient care instructions can be confusing for a patient, but when the patient does not speak English documents must be provided in the language preferred by the patient. Telelanguage has the capacity to translate documents from English to over 100 target languages and vice versa.
In order to provide the highest quality Translation Services for hospitals and health care systems, Telelanguage only uses translators who have Native Fluency in both the Target Language and English, and who are also subject-matter experts.
Your Hospital Language Services Partner
Telelanguage offers healthcare clients complete language services to communicate with LEP patients:
- Certified medical interpreters available 24/7/365 telephonically, on-site, and via video remote
- Translation of vital documents, patient forms, and notices
- Fastest interpreter connect times in the industry
- Leading-edge proprietary interpretation technology
- Best medically trained interpreters in the emergency healthcare industry
- Free Cultural Awareness training to help organizations work effectively LEP patients
Telelanguage telephonic interpretation provides healthcare organizations with language access solutions to easily integrate a certified medical interpreter.
Available at a low per-minute rate, telephonic interpretation healthcare professionals to connect to an interpreter in seconds, regardless of the language needed. Telelanguage’s proprietary technology ensures that there are no outages during national emergencies and allows you to connect to certified medical interpreters, best qualified for your situation, in over 300 languages.
For a deeper understanding of language access in healthcare, Download the Free eBook, “The Healthcare Interpretation Guide: Language Access for a Better Patient Experience.”
Telelanguage Helps Hospitals Achieve and Maintain Compliance
- Affordable Care Act, Section 1557 (ACA)
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
- Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
- Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)
- Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI)
- Fraud, Waste and Abuse (FWA)
- The Joint Commission
- Protected Health Information (PHI)
Why Hospitals are Switching to Telelanguage
- Medically trained and certified interpreters
- HIPAA Compliant Services
- Lower Cost
- Free Service Trial Programs
- Best-in-Industry Call Volume Discount Plans
- Proprietary Technology
- Quick interpreter connect to over 300 languages
Communication is a critical component of patient care. Language interpretation in hospitals empowers healthcare professionals to resolve language barriers quickly, for every patient encounter. Telelanguage has been providing medical interpretation and translation services for hospitals and health care systems since 1991. Over 70% of our current clients are healthcare entities. Our team of 5,000+ certified interpreters is ready to speak in over 300 languages. When language barriers arise in health care settings, you need support you can trust.
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Have questions about interpretation solutions for your hospital or health care facility? Contact us for a free quote, or schedule a free demo to learn how Telelanguage can improve the quality of communication for you and your patients.
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