The Importance of Language in Patient-Centered Care

stock-photo-mother-and-daughter-talking-to-consultant-in-hospital-roomAmerican medical systems face challenges as demographic shifts result in a growing number of patients with Limited English Proficiency (LEP). The commonality of language and cultural sensitivity are key elements that can facilitate the implementation of diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment. It is vital that healthcare providers offer translation services in order to respond to patients’ concerns and needs most effectively.

Medical organizations that receive federal funds are required by law to have interpreters and translated documents in place, but there are still gaps in the provision of language-specific treatment and care. For example, within the Latinx community, several dialects of Spanish are used depending on the country of origin. Multilingual staff members give care providers not only a competitive advantage, but also the ability to maximize the quality of care received by patients.

The advantages of same language service provision ultimately focus on the quality of care. This is because patients can explain their symptoms clearly, ask questions, and experience an enhanced comfort level. Health care personnel can better understand patient needs and concerns; additionally, they can clearly explain the course of treatment, the need for additional procedures, dosages of prescriptions, and dietary concerns. Essentially, every aspect of the doctor-patient dynamic is optimized. Patients who may be apprehensive dealing with unfamiliar people in an unfamiliar setting with emotionally-charged potential can be put at ease by means of effective communication and a sense of inclusion.

In response to the growing number of LEP patients at all levels of healthcare across the country, several states now require healthcare interpreters to be certified in the language of their patients. This is an excellent reaction to changing demographics; however, high-quality proficiency testing is critical in meeting these requirements. As one Language Access Specialist recently stated, “My research showed that Language Testing International (LTI) had the best test available.” LTI stands ready to provide the necessary testing and certification to ensure that LEP patients have the most qualified interpreters possible throughout the healthcare industry. A proactive stance on the part of the medical establishment will be beneficial to both the industry and the patients it serves.

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Since 1992, Language Testing International (LTI) a Samsung Company, and the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), have been offering valid and reliable reading, writing, speaking, and listening tests in more than 120 languages, in more than 60 countries.

LTI administers language assessments to hundreds of thousands of candidates every year and is one of the largest and most respected foreign language proficiency test providers in the world. We offer the highest level of client service as well as convenient online test scheduling and reporting over secure client networks.

Contact us today to get started!

Lisa March is a bilingual Marketing and Sales Executive. She works closely with LTI on strategic partnerships, business development and marketing. Her efforts help LTI scale the use and implementation of language assessments in schools, institutions, corporations and government agencies.