A recent story by OPB explained how the Oregon and Washington Health Exchanges are struggling to translate their materials correctly in preparation for open enrollment. Luckily, the exchanges don’t go live until October, so they have time to work the bugs out. We applaud them for getting a head start, as well as getting feedback on their translations.
Wherever you are at in the process, we’ve got some tips to help you get started on the right path:
- Assess the situation: Identify the language, culture, ethnicity, and literacy levels of the groups whose needs you must address in your market.
- Give yourself plenty of time: Keep in mind that it takes time to get your documents print-ready, translated and reviewed. Build plenty of time in your plan for each phase.
- Find a good partner: Your choice of an LSP is critical to the success of your translation projects. Ideally, you want more than just a provider of translation services; you want a language services partner you can rely on.
- Maximize your healthcare translation budget: By working with an LSP skilled with translation memory and industry tools, you can recycle previous translations and save 20-50%.
- Streamline the review process: By using professionally created and maintained translation glossaries and style guides, you can reduce time spent in the review and revision process by as much as 50%.
Still feeling a little lost? We can help. Read our ANOC-EOC data sheet to learn about VIA’s translation solutions and how your plan can save time and money in your open enrollment translation process.
I recently joined the Healthcare marketing network group on LinkedIn and noticed that one of the most popular discussions is “One Big Reason Health Exchanges May Fail” which was started by Andrew Atkin, CEO, Planet H. Mr. Atkin makes some fantastic points and I agree that building a roadmap will greatly improve the customer experience for any state’s exchange program. That said, I think there’s one key element that should be added: language and cultural barriers.
Mr. Atkin notes that many of the 12 million new customers and 11 million small businesses that will flood the insurance market in 2014 “be less educated and more racially diverse.” In addition, he calls out a few great questions that healthcare marketers need to be thinking about, such as “How do you reach these customers?” But one question he doesn’t ask is “How do we communicate with the subset of these customers who don’t speak English as their first language?”
Research shows that limited-English-proficient (LEP) and minority populations are more likely than their white counterparts to have chronic disease, lack health insurance, and have difficulties communicating with healthcare providers, even if qualified as highly literate in their primary language. Even for those who speak English as a second language, comprehension of new vocabulary or subject matter can be quite low. This is especially true when faced with difficult medical terminology.
Bridging the language gap is key to ensuring your culturally diverse communities enjoy equal access to healthcare. True understanding happens when they can internalize the material in their native language. Therefore, I would recommend adding an 8th step to the roadmap: Tailor communication to the targeted cultures through translation and localization. Further, I would expand Mr. Atkins second big idea to say that trusted translators should be included in the close marketing partnerships with insurers, navigators and exchanges in order to truly “power the Customer Experience Road Map.”
To find out more about how to create readable health materials in any language, read our brief The Growing Challenges of Health Literacy.
When it comes to translations, maintaining consistency and efficiency can be tricky, especially when organizations are managing multiple languages and multiple translation vendors. How can healthcare organizations ensure their brand is consistently translated from one language service provider to the next? And how can version control be maintained when there are numerous versions of documents living in multiple places at once?
The key to avoiding these issues is establishing a centralized translation process. While this may not be the solution for every organization, it may be the right step for larger organizations that are challenged with some of the following:
- Supporting large volumes in one or more languages
- Various types of healthcare content
- Standardized healthcare preferences and terms
- Private health information content
- Meeting compliance regulations
- Desire to improve quality management, reduce costs and minimize mistakes
If any of the above applies to your organization, it may be time to consider the idea of centralization. Centralizing enables fast, predictable turnaround of multilingual projects and delivers cost savings through the use of linguistic assets such as translation memories and technology tools. Centralization also saves time by allowing for a single record of all active and live documents that have been translated. It takes a bit of effort to get there, but it’s definitely worth your while. To read more about centralizing, and how it worked for a large California health System, click here.
Earlier this week Health and Human Services (HHS) released the enhanced National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) in Health and Health Care. This is meant to be a blueprint to guide individuals and organizations in implementing culturally and linguistically appropriate services in order to help advance better health and health care in the United States. You can read the press release here.
According to the www.ThinkCulturalHealth.hhs.gov website:
Health inequities in our nation are well documented, and the provision of culturally and linguistically appropriate services (CLAS) is one strategy to help eliminate health inequities. By tailoring services to an individual’s culture and language preference, health professionals can help bring about positive health outcomes for diverse populations.
We couldn’t agree more. At VIA we believe that bridging the language gap is key to ensuring culturally diverse communities enjoy equal access to healthcare. That said, we realize that reaching out to an ever-expanding range of cultures in your community and finding solutions to best meet the growing needs for your limited English proficiency (LEP) populations is challenging and complex. But, we’re here to help. From websites to patient education, VIA tailors each communication to the targeted culture.
As dedicated healthcare specialists, we serve over 400 healthcare clients globally. We’ve built translation capabilities in over 125 languages and a hand-selected network of over 1,000 professional healthcare-specific linguists.
In addition, to help you with this particular aspect of health equity, we have also created a guide with tips about how to keep current with language access mandates while still providing culturally and linguistically meaningful healthcare communications to your members and community.
I just read an article that a bill for Cultural Competency (House Bill 2611) is heading to the House floor in Oregon which would allow the state’s medical licensing boards to require that health professionals must take cultural competency continuing education courses to remain licensed. Cultural competency training for health professionals is already the law of the land in six states including Washington and California, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Five other states, as diverse as New York, Ohio, Georgia and Arizona are also currently considering adopting the practice.
Cultural competency, along with providing patient materials which can be fully understood in their native language at the appropriate literacy level, can greatly improve not only health literacy and patient engagement, but overall cost to individuals and our healthcare system at large. In “The HealthCare Blog” Judith Hibbard and Jessica Green share ample evidence that the behaviors people engage in and the health care choices they make have a very clear effect on both health and costs, both positively and negatively. Their study reported in the February issue of Health Affairs, highlights this role that patients play in determining health-related outcomes:
We found that patients who were more knowledgeable, skilled and confident about managing their day-to-day health and health care (also known as ‘patient activation,’ measured by the Patient Activation Measure) had health care costs that were 8 percent lower in the base year and 21 percent lower in the next year compared to patients who lacked this type of confidence and skill. These savings held true even after adjusting for patient differences, such as demographic factors and the severity of illnesses.
For more information check out our webinar: Culturally Competent Healthcare: Strategies and Tools for Making a Difference.
Not only are health plans facing reform, but as our population continues to diversify, language and cultural barriers continue to complicate matters. Health plans across the nation are preparing for what’s in store for the next two years. In order to succeed in this evolving environment, they need to reassess current strategies and find ways to turn challenges into new opportunities. The healthcare industry must redesign its business models to better capture, serve, and keep a growing class of empowered customers. Healthcare reform has brought more questions than answers, and there’s still much we don’t know. One thing that can certainly be said, however, is that the health plans of tomorrow will not be the same as today. Therefore it is vital they keep members informed, educated and engaged.
Join VIA on February 27 for our next healthcare translation webinar on 2013 Health Plan Preparedness. This complimentary event will highlight features of the health care law that pertain to language access, and will better equip health plans to serve their diverse members.
Attendees will also learn:
- Trends around legislation, immigration and language populations
- Prioritizing your budget for the greatest impact
- Tips for managing content – from healthcare literacy, translation to cultural sensitivity
- Using print, video and mobile to improve education and engagement
Time’s running out, so reserve your seat now and stay ahead of the curve!