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.
About the author: Karen Donovan is the VP of Healthcare for VIA. Her background encompasses working with stakeholders across a wide range of the spectrum, providing strategic solutions for health systems, providers, vendors and insurers in today’s ever evolving US healthcare delivery system. Read more from this author