VIA assists with OHSU Intercultural Customer Service Initiative

Oregon Health Science University (OHSU) is committed to continuously improving the patient care environment and patient experience across all levels of the organization and all patient touch functions. I’m delighted to share an opportunity they recognized in the Environmental Services department.

Environmental Services employs several hundred people and is one of the departments that have multiple patient interactions each day. This department is one of the most diverse at OHSU, with over 65% of employees identifying their first language to be something other than English. After observing the various native and non-native housekeepers to evaluate their language skills, OHSU found that many were struggling to follow the AIDET (Acknowledge, Introduce, Duration, Explain, Thank) protocol.  As a result, they developed a training initiative in partnership with the Department of Applied Linguistics of Portland State University then worked with VIA to translate the documents at the appropriate literacy level into the top nine language groups spoken by the staff.

The translated handouts were used in conjunction with the English versions during 23 training sessions and they helped the non-native English speakers to fully comprehend the materials. Following the training, these handouts were laminated and distributed to each housekeeper in English and the language of their choice.

Participants provided feedback that the initiative increased their confidence and competency with the tasks they are asked to perform. In particular, they said that practicing the AIDET script in their own language along with English would make it easier for them to do their job well. As a result, they were able to provide better service and help OHSU to deliver health equity to its all patients regardless of their cultural or linguistic background. This was reflected one month after the training initiative when the November 2012 HCAHPS overall raw scores improved.  Read the full case study to learn more.


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

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