Tag Archive for access

Pharma put on notice as FDA enlists doctors to patrol for ‘bad’ ads

A recent program begun by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is “deputizing” members of the healthcare industry, while rankling the pharmaceutical and marketing industries. Calling it the “Bad Ad Program,” the FDA is asking doctors and other healthcare professionals to report ads and promotions that run afoul of FDA rules.

The inspiration behind the effort was to help root out inappropriate sales pitches made by pharma reps to physicians, in other words violations the FDA cannot see. But the program scope is actually broader, inviting medical professionals to report “bad” ads to the Division of Drug Marketing, Advertising, and Communications (DDMAC) anonymously via e-mail.

According to the DDMAC, the initial phase of what is intended to be a larger program focuses on educating healthcare personnel about what makes a compliant ad and what the DDMAC can do. Later phases will apparently offer more detailed examples of what to look for.

Critics of the effort dismiss it as ill-conceived. They see it as little more than an understaffed FDA’s inability to monitor and respond to the enormous amount of advertising and marketing material generated to support prescription medicine. Others point out that, because anyone can make a report, the complaint might actually be coming from a competitor.

No mention was made in the story regarding whether non-English ads are included. But isn’t a “bad ad” bad no matter what language it’s in? Addressing non-compliant communications must, after all, be considered part of ensuring language access for today’s limited English proficient patients.

Good health!

Social and new media are changing the face of healthcare – see for yourself!

If you’ve been following Speaking Healthcare you have surely read by now how social and new media serve as incredible platforms for connecting with your patients and communities. Healthcare providers who build a social media presence are building more than just their brand; they are providing better access to healthcare information by reaching their members through these media channels.

Yet how many organizations are exploiting the true power of these increasingly valuable tools? How many patients are even online, and what does this mean for us as members of the healthcare industry as well as the United States? Take a minute and watch the video below…if you weren’t convinced about the power and popularity of these before, you will certainly be now!

Leslie Iburg

Language access is an important line item in a patient’s bill of rights

In a recent post on the Health Care blog, Kim Bellard expresses a sentiment too often neglected in the health care reform debate: Most in the industry, whether insurance companies, providers or government, have the interests of patients in mind.

The problem is not an evil industry. Rather, it’s that health care is, in her words, “done to patients,” rather than something patients drive and direct. This is a critical distinction. She goes on to outline a “bill of rights” for health care reform, including things like the right to affordable—but not free—coverage and the right to use health care date to manage one’s health.

Bellard identifies 10 such “rights.” Unfortunately, she fails to identify language access as a critical component. Rights five and six are related, but fall short:

• People have a right to make informed choices.
• People have a right to be able to understand their health coverage, and fairly compare their choices.

Perhaps health care translation is an implied need in these rights. But in a system increasingly occupied by limited English proficient patients, implied inclusion is no longer sufficient. It’s an easy fix, as simple as adding three words to the above rights: regardless of language. That’s reform that includes all patients.

Good health!


President Obama spotlights need for translation – including healthcare translation?

Last month, the Executive Office of the President and the National Economic Council issued its “Strategy for American Innovation.” Though the last bullet in the document, a recommendation was included to pursue “highly accurate and real-time” machine translation to “lower barriers to international commerce and collaboration.”

This and the other innovations noted in the report will come from both the President’s budget and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), especially as an expression of the ARRA’s aim to bring about breakthroughs for national priorities like clean energy, more efficient vehicles, and health care technology.

While it remains unclear how this focus will impact healthcare translation, the administration’s clear understanding of the language challenges faced both domestically and globally is promising. Companies are already working to advance natural language processing and the information sciences. More funding for these important efforts is welcomed.

But as the American Translators Association pointed out, translation software is just one half of the solution, with experienced, qualified human translators remaining a critical component. Translation is more than the words; it is also about culture. We hope this figures in the administration’s pursuit of language security, and we hope healthcare translation is part of that effort.

Good health!


Telemedicine must incorporate healthcare translation for real access

It’s a challenging time to be in healthcare. Shrinking budgets, accelerated timelines and uncertainty about the future are daily realities. The upside is that a great many people are now discussing the issues and pursuing a solution.

In a recent white paper published in the online journal Telemedicine and e-Health, a group of U.S. medical experts makes the case that telemedicine (or e-health as it is also called) must be a cornerstone to any new healthcare system.

The argument put forth by the paper’s lead authors hinges on the assertion that telemedicine “offers significant opportunities to address the issues of inequities in access to care, cost containment and quality enhancement.”

As language service providers (LSPs), we are most concerned with the first of those issues: access. Today, too many patients are denied equal access because healthcare translation is overlooked or undervalued.

But according to the authors, telemedicine can improve access to all levels of healthcare and address the “prevailing inequities in access to care that reflect geographic, socioeconomic, and cultural disparities.”

No specific mention is made of healthcare translation needs. But I’m choosing to assume that the authors of this paper understand that real access, and therefore a real solution, starts with language.

Good health!



Cheers to Texas for saving an important CHIP bill

I just want to offer a word of praise and thanks to the Texas Senate, which recently rescued a jeopardized children’s healthcare bill. The expansion of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) sought to move 80,000 uninsured children to a government-subsidized health insurance program. But the bill sat paralyzed as House Democrats worked on defeating a voter identification bill.

Thankfully, Sen. Kip Averitt, R-Waco, attached the Senate version of the CHIP bill to a House bill on disease screening for newborns. The Averitt bill would raise the income limits for a family of four from $44,000 to $66,000 to buy in to the program, while limiting parents’ premiums, co-payments, and fees to 5 percent or below net family income.

The bill now returns to the House, which earlier this month passed a bill that expands the program to about $88,000 for a family of four. Because the federal government pays 72 cents of every dollar spent on CHIP, the hope is that the $43 million in state budget for CHIP will draw additional matching funds.

We also have to offer a thank you to all the child advocates, business groups, and doctors who worked hard to save the legislation last week. At a time when healthcare is in a state of flux, it’s inspiring to see such examples of dedication.

Good health!