Language Access in Health Care Creates Cultural Competence

Language Access in Health Care Creates Cultural Competence

I had the privilege this week of sitting down with some nursing students to talk about one of my favorite subjects, Language Access for health care! In the interview below, I discussed the meeting with my colleague, Jana Bitton, who is the Executive Director at Oregon Center for Nursing.

Here are a few of the things we discussed:

What are some challenges when providing language access?

As we spoke, Bitton observed that, in her experience, nurses are pretty good about using interpreters appropriately. Occasionally, a nurse may grab someone who is bi-lingual to provide interpretation for patients, not necessarily someone trained in medical translation for convenience.

There is also issues with cost, technology, and efficiency. All of these can be overcome, but are the right incentives in place?


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Do we need legislation?

Some are looking at adding legislation to make sure health systems are complying with providing translation and interpretation services.  Bitton likes the idea. She said that sometimes you do need to legislate things because there is not another reason to change behavior. However, there are some incentives built into current health care reforms in the form of a positive patient experience. The better the experience, the more funds that come to the organization. The relates directly to providing treatment and communication in the native languages of patients.

I adore about nurses. They are the people at the front line of the health care fight. They are seeing all levels of society and where the problems are. They are identifying any issues they see. Nurse-led effort to improve communication with patients is really important.

What are some current ideas that are working/not working?

There have been some efforts made to improve culturally competent discharge procedures. When discharging, you need to sit down and make sure they understand what just happened to them and what is the follow up.

In the interview, we heard about Providence Hood River Medical Center who recently realized that there were not a lot of cultural competence in place considering language, etc. They revamped the discharge procedure and made sure they had an interpreter there to ensure.

What do you think?

Do you have any thoughts about more challenges for providing language access in health care? Let us know by leaving a comment!

 

Listen to our Discussion Here:

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