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!

Mi casa es su casa

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The American Dream, a key piece of which is home ownership, is flourishing in Latinx communities all across the nation. By every economic measure, the buying power of Spanish-speaking Americans is skyrocketing to the tune of over $2 trillion. That buying power is most especially manifesting itself in home ownership, evidenced by the statistic that over 6 million new homes will be purchased by Latinx consumers within the next few years. As a prominent executive with the National Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP) remarked, “With a growing Hispanic population and the highest rate of workforce participation, Hispanics are expected to drive growth in the housing market for decades”. While this is certainly good news for the real estate business, it also presents a series of unique challenges that will need to be met as this industry adapts to a Spanish-speaking customer base.

NAHREP recommends that the first step would be “to address the incredible shortage of Spanish-language speaking, culturally competent real estate agents (7%) and mortgage professionals (4%)”. The lack of bilingual professionals in this key area is a drag on the market. Many Latinx homebuyers express a preference for agents who can explain complicated transactions in a readily understandable format. Cultural sensitivity is also important, introducing upwardly mobile people into neighborhoods that might not reflect their ethnic identities and helping people select areas where they feel at home. As one homebuyer commented, “The (Spanish-speaking) agent was able to tell us if we would feel comfortable around the neighborhood.”

Given the economic projections for the future, improved language skills and cultural sensibilities will play important roles in the world of real estate for some time to come. There will be an increased need for multilingual professionals in both real estate and financial services, and these will surely create ripple effects in the banking and insurance sectors as well. Local government officials and educators will need to respond as demographic shifts alter the social landscape of communities. The need for certified, proficient Spanish speakers has never been greater and will only continue to grow as America becomes more diverse and prosperous.

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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!

When Miscommunication Turns Deadly: The True Story of Avianca Flight 52

What Happened?

In January 1990, Avianca Flight 52 from Bogota, Colombia, to New York City, was running out of fuel on approach to John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Due to weather conditions, the aircraft was kept in a holding pattern prior to landing, even though its fuel situation was critical. The flight crew communicated the situation to the ground crew, but according to reports, they failed to use correct terminology to describe the situation. They did not, for example, use the word “emergency.” Unfortunately, air traffic control underestimated the seriousness of the situation, and the Boeing 707 aircraft crashed into a residential area on Long Island, killing 73 of the 158 people on board.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determined the crash occurred partly from the flight crew’s failure to properly communicate a fuel emergency.
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How To Improve Communication With Multilingual Patients In Healthcare Environments

The number of foreign language speakers in the United States has increased an impressive 90% since 1990. There are 38.4 million Spanish speakers reported in the US. The next most common language is Chinese, with 3 million speakers, followed by 1.6 million Tagalog speakers, 1.4 million Vietnamese speakers and 1.3 million French speakers. These populations translate into a new challenge for healthcare professionals and organizations across the nation.
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