Improving the Patient Experience in Healthcare: Cultural and Linguistic Competence 

6 min read

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.

The Cost of High-Quality Interpretation: A Low Rate Doesn’t Mean Savings

5 min readInvesting in a strategy to help your limited English proficient (LEP) patients or customers is an admirable goal, and being sure you’re getting the best deal is integral to offering high-quality services without emptying your pockets.  

When considering a partnership with a language service provider the first thing an organization weighs is price. The price of interpretation is a fair consideration to make. But when thinking about cost, it’s important to contemplate more than just the number laid out before you. While a low hourly or minute rate may seem appealing, it can cost you more than you bargained for if that interpreter is not carefully vetted, experienced, or qualified for your situation. 

A qualified interpreter may have a higher per-minute rate than someone without a specialized skillset, but there are several reasons for this. Interpreting is more than just converting words from one language to another – it’s understanding meaning, context, cultural nuisances, and having a background in a particular field, like healthcare for instance. Medical interpreters have a broad knowledge of medical terminology and treatments and are well-versed in healthcare regulations and ethical standards. With a qualified medical interpreter, clear communication between a doctor and LEP patient is assured, which reduces costly readmissions and lengths of stay. These calls/sessions also tend to be shorter because a qualified medical interpreter doesn’t need as much time for clarification as an interpreter without a medical background (extra minutes add up even while an interpreter has a lower rate). In the long run, a more qualified interpreter saves you time and money even if their rate appears to be higher on the surface – and this applies to all sectors from legal to finance. 

At Language Services Associates (LSA) we hold our interpreters to a high standard, with a meticulous six-step assessment process, and only one in every 40 candidates making it through our qualification procedure. Our interpreters are carefully vetted, industry-specialized, and frequently monitored to ensure that we are providing the highest quality service possible.  

Contact our team at 800.305.9673 X55305 or fill out our contact form in seconds.  

About LSA 

Language Services Associates (LSA) offers a full suite of language interpretation solutions to help optimize the experience of limited English proficient customers and patients. Providing native language support improves the efficiency and productivity of staff, raises customer satisfaction levels, and builds loyalty. For thousands of clients worldwide, in more than 230 languages, LSA provides a competitive differentiator in the healthcare, government, financial and banking, insurance, entertainment, hospitality, and manufacturing industries.  

Six Reasons You Need to Partner with a Language Service Provider

13 min readIn any industry, the ability to communicate with your clients, patients, or customers is critical to your success, and allowing language barriers to get in the way can be costly. The world continues to become more globalized every day. Employing the technological solutions and expertise of a language service provider will give you the necessary tools for offering clear communication with your limited English proficient (LEP) patients, clients, or customers, while also ensuring you’re in compliance with state and federal laws. Expanding your reach outside of one language group can be the difference between making it or getting left behind – not only for yourself, but for 67.8 million people that speak a language other than English at home. Providing language access via a language service provider is the best way to support equal access for limited English-proficient communities at your school, business, hospital, or practice. 

Here are Six Reasons to Partner with a Language Service Provider Today: 

 1. Access to Underserved Markets 

If your organization is looking to expand, it’s important to note that most consumers/patients prefer communicating in their language. Whether you’re looking to increase your reach globally, within the United States, or in your community, incorporating a language access plan into your services is a great way to avoid alienating a substantial portion of the population, while breaking into an often overlooked yet growing market. Language and cultural competency are fundamental to the inclusion of diverse people, and taking shortcuts when it comes to communication and outreach can have consequences.  

Businesses looking to target new markets with products or services geared towards a specific community or language group may benefit from expert cultural consultation. Even companies with the best intentions risk costly setbacks due to missteps in cultural competency – there have been several instances where large companies have had to pull or discontinue products due to cultural inaccuracies.  

At Language Service Associates (LSA) our interpreters and translation teams are language and cultural experts that can help you avoid errors and ensure that your efforts to reach a wider audience are successful.  

2.  Complying with State and Federal Laws 

Depending on your industry, you may be required by language access laws to provide interpreters for your limited English proficient (LEP) clients/patients. These laws include Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Executive Order 13166, and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 

Primarily, businesses and organizations that receive federal funding typically need to abide by these laws – schools, healthcare facilities, government offices, etc. But states may have their own laws that can also apply to several other sectors. Partnering with a trusted language provider offers you consultative experts that complement your internal teams with expertise in language services. This assures you receive the appropriate solutions necessary for complying with mandatory state and federal laws, that fit seamlessly into your routine and budget. LSA offers guidance and support to ensure that you fully adhere to mandatory regulations, and have the tools necessary to support your LEP population. 

3.  Improving Customer or Patient Services 

Communication is key in business transactions or providing care for patients or customers that require native language support. The easier it is to communicate, the better the experience will be for everyone – this is especially true in the healthcare sector where jargon and complex terminology can be difficult to understand in any language. Miscommunication can lead to mistrust, loss of clients, misunderstood diagnosis or treatment, and numerous issues that can negatively impact your business or practice. A language provider offers interpreters trained and/or certified in different sectors that keenly understand industry terminology and standards. These interpreters help bridge a gap between staff/employees and their LEP clients/patients that often gets in the way of providing first-rate service or care. LSA’s interpreters are selected only after enduring a rigorous qualification process with only one in 40 meeting our standards. These interpreters are well-versed and highly experienced in their specialized sector and can be the difference you need. 

 4. Building Brand Trust 

In various cultures and languages, messages can be interpreted in many ways. While in English, your business may be sending a clear message to your customers, that same message may have an entirely different meaning in Arabic or Spanish. Partnering with a trusted language service provider will give you the tools to communicate clearly with LEP populations, breaking down language and cultural barriers. This will protect your brand’s reputation and build trust among consumers who seek out organizations that make an effort to communicate with them. Building consumer trust begins with clear communication in a variety of languages. Language Services Associates has a team of highly experienced translators and interpreters with expertise in the business sector to facilitate clear, culturally appropriate communication between your company and diverse clientele.  

5. Saving Money 

In most industries, encountering people who speak another language is fairly common. How an organization addresses their diverse clientele can be the difference between not only offering the right products or care, but also how much money is lost or spent. A bilingual employee may help with a customer or two, but remember that a bilingual employee doesn’t have the same range of knowledge and experience that a qualified interpreter brings to the table. Asking a bilingual employee to serve as an interpreter also puts pressure on them while taking time away from their actual job. A professional interpreter’s experience goes beyond just understanding language – they know cultural nuances, body language, and can convey meaning faster than your average person (especially when a word doesn’t have an equivalent in another language). Legally, using an employee in place of an interpreter can have consequences. In medical settings, if an untrained bilingual employee was to misinterpret a word or meaning, this could result in errors of diagnoses, treatment, and aftercare. This might lead to patients being readmitted, or a lawsuit if serious consequences were to transpire for the patient. 

You can hire a freelance interpreter, which may seem like a cost-effective solution in the short-term, but they tend to set their own schedules and charge a high price – and since they set their own itinerary, the wait to bring them into your facility can be costing you money in the interim. Language providers carefully vet their interpreters and offer industry-specialized agents that have undergone rigorous training and monitoring.  A language provider offers access to over-the-phone interpreters (OPIs) on demand in hundreds of languages ready to take your call. Or, if it’s more appropriate, video and in-person solutions are available as well. LSA improves the client experience and agent metrics when a client interaction requires an interpreter.  

6. Access to Hundreds of Languages with Sector-Specific Expertise  

Through various customizable solutions, language service providers offer a direct line to hundreds of languages and dialects. Interpreters specialize in individual fields (medical, finance & banking, contact centers, legal, etc.) with a clear understanding of the terminology used, and access to tools and study guides to keep their skills sharp and up to date. From American Sign Language to Spanish to rare dialects, language providers have the tools to prevent communication oversights that can harm your business. LSA’s interpreters have access to reference material and study guides for continuous training. They’re monitored and tested to maintain the highest quality standards. 

Learn more about LSA’s customizable solutions today! 

Contact our team at 800.305.9673 X55305 or fill out our contact form in seconds. 

Language Services Associates Named Top Provider


Media Contact:
Marketing Specialist

800.305.9673 X55139

Horsham, PA May 7, 2020  Language Services Associates (LSA) is proud to announce that it was named as a top 30 language services provider in the Nimdzi 2020 report. Nimdzi is one of the most prestigious international research and consultancy firms focused on the language industry. Being listed in the top tier of providers in a crowded market is a distinguishing accomplishment for Language Services Associates.

“The language industry is constantly evolving. LSA has been a dynamic participant in this area for more than 25 years and we are proud to be a part of this report.  We were thrilled that Nimdzi recognized our contributions,” says Scott F. Cooper, LSA’s Managing Director and General Counsel.

LSA provides business-to-business real-time interpretation services through phone, video and in-person delivery.  It also translates documents and website content.  LSA is a national leader in language for healthcare providers, financial services, insurance, Medicare call centers, conferences, and a variety of other industries.  LSA utilizes a distributed interpreter network, which further prevents against service interruptions from natural and health causes.

LSA solutions offer industry-leading integration of interpretation services in over 240 languages through a wide array of complex platforms including telehealth encounters, health system EHRs and multi-party interactions.  Quality interpretation in the healthcare space reduces patient readmission rates, helps with patient outcomes, and contributes to greater clinician efficiency.

Mr. Cooper indicates, “The service lines we have been developing for years are now on full display during the COVID-19 outbreak.  Our processes reduce the risk of infection by allowing streamlined interactions between patients, physicians, and interpreters from remote locations.  As important, we can scale solutions for health systems and other users of all sizes.  Getting reliable healthcare to all patients – regardless of their language proficiency – is a key strategy in flattening the coronavirus curve.”

“With the recent COVID-19 pandemic, we are seeing businesses needing access to interpreters in new ways because how they do business in this unprecedented event is changing. We have the options and technology to deliver,” says Mr. Cooper.

LSA also has significant experience in disaster recovery efforts and was able to adjust to a significant increase in volume of interpreter requests during hurricane Maria. “We were very prepared and had a plan in place. Despite this outbreak, we are fully operational and ready to serve our clients and those that need language services. And, our listing in Nimdzi reinforces our capability,” explains Mr. Cooper.

About LSA

Language Services Associates is a full-service national leader delivering interpretation and translation solutions. Thousands of clients worldwide rely on LSA’s unique combination of state-of-the-art technology, a global roster of highly qualified interpreters providing more than 240 languages, and over 25 years of industry expertise. For more information visit:

Onsite Interpretation FAQs

9 min readWhat languages do you offer? 

Our Onsite Interpreting service is available in hundreds languages, including American Sign Language (ASL). 

What is the difference between interpretation and translation? 

Although both practices share the common goal of taking information that is available in one language and converting it to another, they are two separate processes. Interpretation refers to listening to something spoken and interpreting it orally into the target language. Translation involves taking a written text and translating it in writing into the target language. 

How do I make a request? 

You can request an onsite interpreter by logging in to LSA’s Client Portal, or by calling 866-827-7028. 

What information will I need to provide when making a request? 

In order to process your request, we will need the following information: date, time, location, address, contact number, type of appointment and any other details pertaining to your assignment, such as the name of the individual requesting the interpreter and who the interpreter should report to upon arrival. When making your request, please be as detailed as possible so that we can match you with the most qualified interpreter. 

How much notice do I need to give to schedule an onsite interpreter? 

We will always strive to fill your interpretation needs, even for immediate and same day requests. However, to increase the likelihood that your interpretation needs are fully met, we ask that you provide us with as much notice as possible.  Please provide us with at least one weeks’ notice for foreign language requests and two weeks’ notice for ASL requests. 

What if I need an onsite interpreter right away? 

If you need an interpreter for an emergency, we will make every attempt to find someone that is available for your assignment. If you cannot wait, our  Over the Phone interpretation service is available on demand. We can connect you to a highly qualified telephone interpreter in hundreds of languages in just seconds. 

What if an interpreter is not available within a reasonable travel distance? 

Our linguists are continuously being evaluated and supplemented to ensure interpreters are available to accept assignments in the areas where our clients need the service delivered. If an interpreter cannot be located, we will give you an alternate date or time when one is available, or we will coordinate with the interpreter the travel arrangements necessary to get him her to your site. 

Are your interpreters trained in industry terminology? 

Once an interpreter is activated and placed into our network, he/she has unlimited access to a multitude of helpful resource documents and training materials. These items include industry and company-specific glossaries and vocabulary lists. Interpreters review these documents on an ongoing basis so that they are fully equipped to provide the highest quality interpretation service possible. We will always provide you with an interpreter that possesses the appropriate education and industry experience that your request requires. Learn more about our strict quality standards for onsite interpreters. 

Will we receive a confirmation that an interpreter has been assigned? 

We can confirm your interpreter via a phone, or e-mail, as per your request. You can also check the status of your interpreter at any time by logging in to our online scheduling platform. 

How do you guarantee confidentiality? 

Our linguists are held to a strict Code of Ethics and recognized professional standards, which include strict compliance with the confidentiality of client information. 

May I request a specific interpreter? 

If you have a particular interpreter you would like matched to your account, please include his/her name on your request form. We will always attempt to match that interpreter to your assignment first. If that interpreter is not available, another resource can be found. 

What is the difference between simultaneous and consecutive interpreting? 

Consecutive interpreters will only interpret after you have completed a thought. The information is then relayed to the non-English speaker by the interpreter. This type of interpreting is common for events such as depositions and medical appointments. Simultaneous interpreters, on the other hand, continuously interpret while you are speaking. This mode of interpreting is standard for conferences and court rooms. 

How many interpreters will I need for my assignment? 

The number of interpreters required to fulfill your request depends on a variety of factors, including the number of non-English speakers and the level of interaction. For conferences, simultaneous assignments, ASL requests of more than two hours, and ASL assignments that are legal in nature, a team of interpreters is usually required. Legal ASL assignments often require a Certified Deaf Interpreter (CDI) teammate in addition to a hearing interpreter. After receiving your request, we will be able to determine whether or not team interpretation is necessary. 

What if I’m uncertain of the language? 

Members of LSA’s onsite interpreting department will help you identify the correct language. We can also utilize our Over-the-Phone interpretation department for positive language verification. 

Do you provide certified on-site interpreters? 

Certification types vary by state. We will make every effort to match your account with an interpreter that is credentialed with your desired certification, or an equally qualified skillset. 

What types of assignments do you send interpreters to? 

Medical appointments, court cases, depositions, arbitrations, sporting events, insurance statements, wiretaps, social service visits, mental health assessments, criminal line-ups, industrial site tours, foreign delegations, and industry conferences are just some of the many types of requests we have provided onsite interpreters for.