This week we celebrate Patient Safety Awareness Week, an event intended to advance important discussions and inspire action to improve the safety of the health care system for patients and providers. With more than 25 million limited English proficient (LEP) patients living in the United States today, an increase of 140 percent throughout the past 30 years, effective communication is paramount to ensuring providers are delivering the safest and best care possible. Even more, 80 percent of U.S. hospitals cite that they frequently encounter LEP patients, and 43 percent of these facilities are seeing LEP patients on a daily basis. Learn how failing to provide high-performing language access services can significantly impact your organization.
Language access barriers and poor patient-provider communication can result in a myriad of healthcare disparities and challenges, including delays to treatment and consent, increased medication errors, readmissions, adverse events, healthcare associated infections and a longer length of stay.
According to recent research, LEP patients are twice as likely to suffer adverse medical events as English-speaking patients and according to the International Medical Interpreters Association, LEP patients who don’t receive interpretation services at admission and/or discharge have an average increased length of stay between 0.6 to 2.4 days. In addition, 30-day re-admission rates for LEP patients who don’t receive interpretation are 9.4% higher than those who have interpreters for admission and discharge.
To improve communication between clinicians and their limited English proficient, Deaf and hard of hearing patients across the continuum of care, providers are partnering with high performing, technology-enabled, healthcare interpreting solutions that improve communications between clinicians and their limited English proficient, Deaf and hard of hearing patients across the continuum of care. The following six elements should be considered to ensure the safety of a high performing language access program:
1) Certified Medical Interpreters – Experienced, credentialed or medically qualified interpreters are central to delivering effective communication. Interpreters of any language services provider should be employees, not contractors. We recommend aiming for 100 percent credentialed video remote interpreters and 100 percent medically qualified voice interpreters in addition to experienced and medically qualified American sign language (ASL) interpreters and Certified Deaf Interpreters (CDIs). All interpreters should be certified by state or national interpreting certification organizations or on a path to certification within several months.
2) Reliable and Appropriate Equipment - Screen size and positioning can directly impact the efficacy of communication when using a video remote interpreter. Video remote interpreting (VRI) devices should be medical grade and specifically designed to support clinical workflows. This should include a wide variety of equipment options and VRI apps to support most Windows and iOS devices.
3) Fast and Accurate Encounter Documentation – Proper documentation of every patient encounter that utilizes an interpreter must be recorded accurately. Language services companies should also be able to offer the ability to scan patient information directly from his/her patient ID bracelet to ensure accuracy.
4) Client and Technical Support - Technology-enabled language access solutions require strategic implementation support/expertise and on-demand technical support to ensure service availability. The client services team should be experienced with launching and optimizing language services solutions across multiple services. The Help Desk should also be available 24/7/365 to ensure uninterrupted access to interpretive services
5) Service Reliability and Ease of Use - The language access application must be available anytime, anywhere and be intuitive enough so that it does not lead to non-compliance and an increased risk to patient safety. Intuitive, cloud-based applications should have significant uptime and be specifically designed to support clinical workflows, providing access to interpretive services in less than 30 seconds with a single touch.
6) 100% Healthcare Focused – Legal requirements, per Section 1557 of the ACA, prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability and age by any health program/activity that receives federal funding and includes health insurance marketplaces and all plans offered by issuers that participate in those marketplaces. Language service providers should deliver timely, medical communication focused exclusively on the healthcare industry to make a direct impact on patient safety-related outcomes.
InDemand is dedicated to exclusively serving the healthcare market, serving over 5,000 patients each day across 2,000 healthcare organizations. InDemand Interpreting provides a comprehensive suite of language access capabilities and services including a suite of devices and hardware, experienced medically certified interpreters and consultative program optimization services. Our on demand solutions facilitate more timely and effective patient/ clinician communication to safeguard care and help organizations improve outcomes, support clinical efficiencies and meet compliance regulations.