In order for medical staff to effectively communicate with all of their patients from linguistically diverse backgrounds, the hospital or clinic must have a language access plan in place. A language access plan ensures that non-English speakers and/or people who have hearing or visual impairments have the tools they need to interact with medical professionals, administration, and other patients.
By implementing a robust language access plan that includes translation, interpretation, and transliteration, health organizations empower their providers to address the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of their limited English proficiency (LEP) populations.
Assessing the linguistic demographics of your community is the first step to creating a successful language access plan. What is the linguistic makeup of the patients you serve? Do you need to implement translation and interpretation services to better meet the needs of all of your patients?
Language translation and interpretation depend on the expertise and cultural awareness to convey clear messaging to non-English speaking patients. As you build a language access plan, make sure that your interpreters are capable of both.
Based on your initial research, you can make a comprehensive list of the communication services you want to support through your language access plan. Things to bear in mind:
Wise-Concetti offers healthcare organizations a variety of translation services to choose from. In the case of translation, the solution you choose depends on the types of materials that must be translated for the patient, including consent forms, medication instructions, discharge papers, etc.
Once you have interpretation solutions in place, devise a campaign strategy to promote the available services. Keep in mind that multilingual speakers are not necessarily literate in every language they speak, so any announcements about translation and interpretation services should span media and format:
Be sure to specify which languages are available at what times and how patients can schedule linguistic services. Healthcare providers should be just as well-versed about the language services their hospital offers as the patients who use them. So we recommend organization-wide communications about your interpretation and translation services across departments.
When instituting a language access plan of any size, healthcare organizations must train their staff during an integration period. Initially, patient-facing staff (medical providers, specialists, front desk receptionists, and so forth) must be trained on the scope of language assistance services the hospital provides and the assistive technology available to patients.
Staff should all attend workshops and training aimed at building cultural competency and LEP awareness in healthcare settings. While early training is needed, honing communication skills with LEPs and patients with visual and hearing impairments must be ongoing, collaborative, and constructive.
Once you’ve put new language access processes in place, set up a timeline in which you can regularly evaluate the effectiveness of the holistic care patients receive. Conduct tests and screening to simulate the experience of non-English speaking patients, patients with visual and/or hearing impairments. Then, score healthcare staff on their ability to provide services and communicate effectively.
Choose an effective language solutions partner.
Need help getting started? Wise-Concetti supports health equity through translation, interpretation, and transliteration services for LEP patients and visual and/or hearing patients throughout their healthcare journey. In addition, we provide comprehensive language access audits for healthcare organizations. Wise-Concetti teams are proficient in several languages and offer evidence-based solutions to increase effective communication between patients and healthcare providers, decreasing adverse medical outcomes.