Most healthcare providers agree that broader language access improves outcomes for patients with limited English proficiency. As patient populations become increasingly diverse, facilities need flexible ways to provide language services across a network of locations.
To identify where language services are having an impact on their organizations, providers can look to some of the key performance indicators they’re already using to measure overall success, including:
Prevention of medical errors is at the heart of any healthcare provider’s language access plan. Communication problems are the most frequent root cause of serious adverse events as reported to the Joint Commission. The smallest nuances of interpretation can cause misunderstandings that have disastrous treatment consequence and expose providers to financial liability. Language services facilitate clear communication between patients and medical professionals, leading to more accurate and complete patient encounters.
Getting patients to comply with physicians’ orders is hard enough, but patients can’t follow instructions they can’t understand. LEP patients can miss critical information about treatment options, medication, self-care or follow-up appointments without the services of a qualified interpreter.
Obviously, federal agencies must provide meaningful access, but unfortunately it’s not that simple. Federal funding touches all kinds of organizations in direct and indirect ways. As a result, the meaningful access standard applies to thousands of organizations across many sectors, including healthcare, education, communications, legal, real estate/housing, transportation, utilities and many others.
How does an organization get started?
The discharge has a direct impact on patient outcomes. Among other things, an effective discharge process ensures a patient:
Is ready to leave a facility’s care
Understands any required aftercare by the patient or another provider
Knows when to follow up and with whom
The discharge process gets snarled, lags behind and fails at its purpose when patients and healthcare staff face a language gap without language services assistance.
Professional interpreter services significantly decrease 30-day readmission rates. While not all readmissions are unplanned or indicators of poor care, unnecessary readmissions are expensive and reducing them improves patient safety and quality of care.
Healthcare providers know that efficiency and a positive patient experience start with patient check-in. Interpretation services coupled with the translation of privacy, permission to treat and other forms will ensure that patients are processed quickly to the provider, preserving patient flows and reducing wait time.
LEP patients who are not provided with language-appropriate appointment scheduling and reminders are more likely to cancel appointments, miss them altogether or show up at the wrong place or time. P