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.

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.

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Happier Holidays For Multilingual Businesses

During the holiday season many retailers, both at the store-level and online, find that communicating with customers in their native language to be a challenge. Selecting which languages communicate in for both employees and website retailers, should reflect your product’s market opportunities and long-term goals. Using backend technologies like geolocation or tracking of billing addresses help identify the origin of your consumer and determine their language preferences.

For merchants seeking to penetrate new international online markets, there are 13 languages that can unlock nearly 90% of online business opportunities. They include English, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, German, French, Korean, Portuguese, Italian, Russian, Dutch, Arabic and Swedish.
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Ethnic Marketing? Turning Obstacles into Opportunities

In the past, appealing to minorities was not a major concern to marketers in most industries.  Ethnic groups in America were expected to assimilate into the mainstream over time, making it a case of Mohammed coming to the mountain.

But time has proven this reasoning faulty.  As a result of many economic and social factors, people are beginning to discover that America is no longer the melting pot it once was.  Instead of looking to assimilate, certain ethnic groups such as African-Americans, Asians and Hispanics have fought to maintain their own cultural integrity.

“The most recent census made it clear that the United States is fast becoming more ethnically diverse,” says Wendy Liebmann, principal of WSL Marketing, a New York-based consultancy.  “The melting pot concept that has typified American society for the last century is rapidly being displaced by a multiethnic mosaic.”
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Press 1 for English, Press 2 for Your Language

In its recent survey on global consumer preferences on the web, “Can’t Read, Won’t Buy,” Common Sense Advisory found that three-quarters of 3,002 respondents in 10 non-English-speaking countries are more likely to buy a product if the post-sales support is in their language. That customer care may be delivered through FAQs or chat at the company’s website – or by a call to a contact center. But the likelihood of a customer from Indonesia calling a U.S. number and reaching someone who speaks his language is very remote.

The same holds true inside a single country where multiple languages are spoken. Based on our research on foreign-language inquiries, we found that Spanish-speaking Americans might not easily get a customer service representative (CSR) who speaks their language. That creates a disconnect for companies, public institutions, and government agencies in the United States that market their “hablamos español” capability, signage, and bilingual packaging or brochures, but can’t satisfy the post-sales or follow-up expectations in spoken interactions.
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