Tag Archive for hispanic

Health reform must include language and culture awareness to succeed

Among its many goals, health reform in the U.S. is seeking to ensure that Hispanics, a historically underserved population, have greater access to health insurance. But as is so often the case when dealing with non-English-speaking communities, failure to address mitigating cultural considerations can undermine the prospect of otherwise well-meaning efforts.

For today’s reform to truly benefit those it intends to serve among the Hispanic population, steps must be taken to ensure that such offerings are clearly understood. Such programs can be a challenge for English-speaking audiences familiar with insurance and how it works. The same is likely to be doubly true of Hispanics, especially those more recently arrived in the country.

Questions as fundamental as what the program offers, who is eligible, and how to enroll must be filtered through a keen understanding of Spanish and the broader Hispanic culture. Even the tagline of the program can be a stumbling block, as Regence discovered. When the line “Together we can take charge” failed to resonate,” further exploration among Hispanics led to the modification “Juntos podemos” or “Together we can.” This line proved to be more culturally meaningful.

There are other issues to bear in mind as health reform proceeds. The most challenging may be fear. Concerned about possible impact on immigration status, Hispanics are often reluctant to participate in government-sponsored programs. A sensitivity to this obstacle must be included in the development of messaging and materials.

Much work has gone into developing a healthcare system that addresses those who have heretofore been excluded or at the very least overlooked. Now that we are attempting to resolve these stubborn issues it would be tragic, both for the work already done and for those who stand to benefit, if we failed to address the necessary language and culture issues as well.

Till next time,

Remember fellow medical translators, Spain is more than just Spanish

It bears repeating: Language matters. It is, of course, one of our abiding mantras at viaLanguage and one that we keep top of mind when working with our healthcare clients as they endeavor to reach their limited-English proficient (LEP) patients.

And it’s not easy. As anyone involved in medical translation, or any kind of translation, can tell you, it involves a great deal more than replacing the words of one language with those of another. We’ve discussed how Spanish, for example, can differ from country to country, but that’s just the beginning.

Consider the challenges of communicating with your patients from Spain. This would seem a fairly straightforward situation: use Spanish or perhaps neutral Spanish. But a recent post on the Medical Translation Insight blog underscored why this might not be as easy as it seems at first blush.

In truth, Spain is culturally and linguistically diverse. And while Spanish is admittedly the dominant language, did you know that the country actually has five official languages? They are Castilian, which is also referred to as Spanish, Catalan, Basque, Galician, and Aranese.

Not surprisingly, the Spanish tend to be multilingual, but the speakers of these other languages are proudly protective of their language’s role in the culture and history of their people and region.

To learn more about the language breakdown in Spain, visit the blog post. In the meantime, it’s good for us to remember that to communicate effectively we must never ignore our duty to develop an understanding of the culture of our audience, even when it seems obvious.

Good health!

One medical blog is doing its part to reach the growing Hispanic population

If you read viaLanguage’s companion blog, WorldMarketer, and I recommend you do for its useful insights for your general multicultural marketing efforts, you’ve seen a spate of posts recently exploring the growing importance of the exploding Hispanic population in the U.S.

The larger commercial world is working hard to respond to this dramatic demographic shift, attempting to understand and meet the unique and varied needs of this increasingly influential group. This is just as true for heath care-related organizations, including those in the life science industries, many of whom may even be guilty of having overlooked this audience.

If this is true of your organization, it might be time to follow in the footsteps of one organization that is sincerely trying to do it right. Medgadget, a journal of what it describes as “emerging medical technologies,” has launched a companion Spanish website as well as a Spanish Facebook page and Twitter feed.

Medgadget is written, edited, and published by a team of independent doctors and biomed engineers. We can assume that their decision to devote the time and expense necessary to build and launch the Spanish-only adjuncts was informed by an understanding of the growth of the Hispanic population.

But whether driven by numbers or not, the site likely stands to benefit, as do Spanish-speaking Medgadget readers who now have a choice, which research has revealed is very important to this audience.

How would your Spanish-speaking audience rate your communications?

Good health!

The Hispanic population is changing. Is your healthcare translation keeping up?

Much has been written about the increasing size and importance of the Hispanic community in the U.S. Long a consideration among forward-thinking healthcare organizations in the U.S. Southwest, the rapid growth of these communities is today a demographic consideration for other regions as well.

According to Felipe Korzenny, author of the Marketing Trends in a New Multicultural Society blog and founder of the Center for Hispanic Marketing Communication, the Hispanic audience is continuing to grow, and in one very important way for multicultural marketers.

Once a population driven largely by immigration, the US Bureau of the Census points out that today’s U.S. Hispanic audience is increasingly the product of U.S. births. The census reports that the older segment of the Hispanic population is 53 percent foreign born, but among those under 18 years of age more than 90 percent are now born in the U.S.

Such a shift dramatically affects how we communicate with this audience. As U.S.-born Hispanic patients, they will have a different relationship with the U.S. and with the U. S. healthcare system than those born elsewhere. How, what, and where we communicate must reflect those differences.

Only when central questions of this kind have been addressed can we hope to grow with this increasingly important audience. To see a table of the demographic shift, see Korzenny’s post.

Good health!

Make Hispanic moms partners in your healthcare translation program

More than 25 percent of births in the U.S. are to Spanish-speaking parents. These children are very likely going to grow up to be completely bilingual. Given the global nature of the economy, this must be seen as a competitive advantage. But we must first ensure, via effective healthcare translation, that these families get the healthcare they need.

In a recent survey entitled “Health & Wellbeing of Hispanic Families,” we can see how important that goal truly is. For example, of those polled, 96 percent want information, tips and content about health and wellness. But most significantly, 74 percent want that information in Spanish.

Also critical is where you communicate with this growing audience. The survey underscores the critical role of the Internet with Spanish-speaking communities. Even low-income moms are online searching for information and seeking answers to healthcare questions.

One important facet revealed during the survey is that Hispanic moms are potentially powerful marketers and communicators for healthcare. If their trust is earned through language access and cultural awareness and sensitivity, they can become powerful liaisons between healthcare and their families and communities.

Good health!


To reach your Hispanic patients, try going online

I recently did a post on a great pair of companion social networking sites called TuDiabetes and EsTuDiabetes. One English, one Spanish, the two sites gives those with diabetes a place to learn about their condition, share, and connect with others. But the sites have something else to teach us.

As well as being a great example of how to use social media as a tool in healthcare, the sites demonstrate a reality that those in healthcare are only now beginning to fully understand: The Hispanic community is online.

Here are some facts:

• 52 percent of U.S. Hispanics, or about 23 million people, were online in 2008 (eMarketer).
• 27 percent of those users went online every day.
• 3.5 million new Hispanic users went online between June 2007 and June 2008, growth of 21 percent compared to just 6 percent general market growth.
• By 2012, more than 29 million Hispanics are expected to be online.

Not only are Hispanics the fastest growing segment of the online population, they are also twice as likely as non-Hispanic whites to visit social media sites like MySpace and Facebook.

There are a range of explanations for why this is true, but it’s how we respond to these trends that makes the difference. If your patients are online and using social media, perhaps there is an opportunity there to bring value. Ask your language services provider how.

Good health!