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Improving the Patient Experience in Healthcare: Cultural and Linguistic Competence 

Effective communication is critical in healthcare settings — especially when addressing the needs of patients with limited English proficiency (LEP). Studies show LEP patients tend to be more vulnerable to harmful adverse events signaling the need for special attention when communicating with them. Cultural and linguistic competence in a clinic or hospital ensures that all patients receive timely and appropriate care, minimizing language barriers that can delay critical treatments. This competence not only aids in recognizing and adapting to the diverse cultural differences of individuals in our communities, but also enhances the effectiveness of healthcare providers in cross-cultural situations. 

Improving Health Equity through Language Services

Providing high-quality care through cultural and linguistic competence promotes health equity and significantly improves the patient experience. Unfortunately, language and cultural barriers can lead to severe consequences, including incorrect diagnoses, costly readmissions, low patient retention, and costly litigation. According to the Joint Commission’s Sentinel Event Database, nearly 59% of significant detrimental events in healthcare stem from communication failures. Additionally, many LEP patients often forgo seeking medical help due to the complexity of medical literature and lack of accessible information. For example, not being able to understand low-cost health plans or updates to programs like Medicaid. Implementing cultural competence strategies not only helps in reaching out to LEP patients effectively but also ensures they feel welcomed and understood. This in turn directly impacts their access to health services.

The Role of Medically Qualified Interpreters

Working with professional interpreters has shown to improve the clinical and quality of care among LEP patients. At Language Services Associates (LSA), we work with medically qualified interpreters who play a pivotal role in bridging communication gaps and improving overall patient experience. Interpreters are rigorously vetted and trained to provide the highest level of support to medical staff and LEP patients. This results in many benefits, including:
Understanding diversity and multicultural attributes allows our interpreters to ensure that all care preferences are clearly understood and respected, aligning with the patient’s cultural background.

Broadening Access to Professional Language Services

In the United States, roughly 22% of the population aged five and over speak a language other than English at home. Additionally, there were over 67 million international visitors in 2023 — translating to a substantial amount of people who likely require professional language services in medical settings. The quality of a patient’s healthcare experience depends heavily on the language access provided and the cultural competency of the medical staff. This is where professional interpreters truly make a difference and prove to be an invaluable addition to the medical staff. Learn more about LSA’s healthcare language support services or schedule a free consultation today.

About LSA

Language Services Associates (LSA) offers a full suite of interpretation solutions to help optimize the experience of limited English proficient patients and customers. Providing native language support improves the efficiency and productivity of staff, raises customer satisfaction levels, and builds trust. LSA provides a competitive differentiator in the healthcare, government, finance, banking, insurance, call center, legalsports industries, and many more industries.