It would be an understatement to say that most of you are a just a little preoccupied with the pending Health Insurance Exchanges that will be here in mere days. With open enrollment and the ACA weighing heavily on everyone’s minds, I thought I’d change gears and write about something uplifting that everyone can celebrate, which is National Hispanic Heritage Month.
Starting in 1968 under President Lyndon Johnson, National Hispanic Heritage Month runs from September 15 to October 15, and celebrates the histories, cultures and contributions of those with origins from Spain, Mexico and the Spanish-speaking nations of Central America, South America and the Caribbean.
In a richly diverse nation full of the world’s many wonderful cultures and backgrounds, people of Hispanic origin still comprise the nation’s largest ethnic or race minority. Those of you that handle language access for your healthcare organization may find it no surprise that Spanish is also the second most common language in the country, and is spoken by over 30% of the population.
From the NFL to the nation’s capital, and many communities and events in between, it’s easy to find a way to join in a celebración of this historical month.
For tips on how to make the most of your marketing efforts to your Hispanic audiences check out these resources from VIA:
As I previously mentioned, the upcoming open enrollment season will bring heaps of newly-eligible health consumers, many of whom do not speak English as their native tongue. In fact, the Kaiser Family Foundation reports that as many as one in four new consumers who will apply for health coverage in the new exchange will speak a language other than English in their home. Removing language barriers for LEP populations is a must for states and health insurance providers to truly ensure equal access to information and healthcare services.
With already so much to prepare for by October’s open enrollment date, those involved with the new health exchange may benefit from some quick tips and proven practices on how to best address their new LEP consumers. And fortunately, Families USA and the National Health Law Program (NHeLP) have developed a “Language Access Checklist for Marketplace Implementation”. This checklist provides a full set of recommendations on how to ensure LEP consumers can successfully enroll in, use and retain coverage. And for even more best practices on managing your multilingual healthcare communications as well as your budget, get your copy of our complimentary guide: Beyond Translation: Best Practices for Healthcare here.
As a result of the Affordable Care Act’s impact on the 2014 landscape, health plans are preparing their mandated documents such as the Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) and Evidence of Coverage (EOC) earlier than usual. The ANOC/EOC is a critical component of your plan as it provides details about coverage, costs and more. This may sound simple enough, but this year insurance plans need to take into account more than just earlier timelines. As a result of the recent reform, 12 million new customers and 11 million small businesses will flood the insurance market in January. Many of these new consumers will come from households that are not only more culturally and linguistically diverse, but that have never had health insurance before.
Navigating the new health exchanges and healthcare system is challenging enough for seasoned professionals, let alone for someone who doesn’t speak English as their first language. And with October and the open enrollment period right around the corner, health plans will soon need to find new strategies to effectively communicate with their new and diverse customers. Bridging the language gap is essential to ensuring diverse communities enjoy equal access to healthcare, because true understanding happens when people can internalize the material in their native language. So whether it’s ANOC/EOC’s, SBC’s, or any of the other numerous communications your plan will soon be sending out, the key is to ensure that you are truly reaching your market in a meaningful, effective way.
Learn more about VIA’s ANOC/EOC translations and how your plan can save up to 20%.
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.
It seems like it was just yesterday when we were in the midst of a national election and speculating if the Affordable Care Act was going to move forward as planned. Fast forward just three months to February and the Final Rule for Essential Health Benefits was issued. Expanded access through Medicaid expansion and Insurer Markets is a reality and open enrollment is approaching fast.
This expanded access will reach populations that haven’t previously had coverage, and the learning curve will be huge. I’ve lived in the healthcare system my entire career and I still find the flow charts explaining access to be a bit of a spaghetti diagram. And that’s just the start—once people determine their eligibility, they will need to make decisions about health plans, navigate enrollment forms, select providers, etc. This is an excellent opportunity not only to provide care, but also to provide education to new members on wellness, prevention and disease management. As the immigrant population will comprise a significant percentage of the newly eligible, providing these materials to consumers with limited English proficiency will be critical to improving the experience, outcomes and ultimately population health.
Health literacy is a big concern in our healthcare system affecting both escalating costs and outcomes. It is particularly prevalent among the elderly, and members of minority or ethnic groups who already face language and cultural barriers. A few things to keep in mind when creating and translating materials are: target 6th-8th grade literacy levels, write clearly in active voice, use short sentences, use clear headings, incorporate cultural nuances for LEP populations, and use graphics to help explain concepts. We also find that Q&A formats work well.
I firmly believe it’s up to all of us to simplify the increasing complexity of the health care system!
Want to learn more about health literacy and how to prepare your health plan for the changing healthcare marketplace? Download and watch our recent webinar, 2012 Health Plan Preparedness.
Think beyond the sample translation
This year your commitment to healthcare awareness may have brought you in search of a healthcare language service provider and chances are you’re considering a “test” translation as your dependable measure for quality. In the sea of options out there, how else will you know if you are likely to get good quality in a language you are probably not a professional speaker of?
We all soon come to realize that a test translation falls far short of the hoped for guarantee. Perhaps, the “best translator” was put on the test; or maybe it was a fluke. Either way, time after time, a test translation has been the relied upon predictor for long-term quality leaving most of us wondering what happened to the perfect translator.
To put this in perspective, I recently had a linguist tested for quality by two different reviewers. One gave the linguists 68 out of a 100 and the other gave the linguist 92 out of 100.
After 15 years in localization and probably more than 3000 tests, I have come to the following two conclusions:
1. Quality is not an instant deliverable – it is a commitment built and established over time with a mixture of experience in the subject, experience with the company, and time available to do the work.
2. Quality is a partnership between client reviewer and agency linguist.
So when I look for quality in our healthcare vendor pool I place more weight on the mechanisms and framework for building and committing to quality than I do on a test translation. The top three things I look for are:
1. Do the linguists or teams look to develop healthcare specific glossaries and style guides – can they give me examples?
2. Do they monitor and track quality over a period – per month, quarter, or year? Can I see multi-term quality metrics for their teams?
3. Do they have corrective quality frameworks that ensure errors are identified and fixed systematically – can they show me change logs or updates to a sample of their language assets?
If I can establish the existence of systematic long-term quality management then I will in turn commit to supporting and growing quality in a partnership together. Together we can track number of errors and corrections, work on healthcare style guides, glossaries and translation memory assets. We can even manage and work through escalations and record the corrective activities together.
In truth, all this is significantly less work than replacing vendors or dealing with systemic quality issues once the glow of the single excellent “test” result fades. Just like every other aspect of our lives, quality is a long term partnership that only bares fruit with effort and commitment. What do you think is the best predictor of quality in a language service provider?
Nic McMahon, EVP of Global Solutions
Category: Healthcare Translation Best Practices
, healthcare translations
, languagse service providers
, quality testing
, test translation
What better month to re-launch our blog than “health literacy” month? Health Literacy Month is a time for organizations and individuals to promote the importance of understandable health information. Since its inception in 1999, there have been hundreds, if not thousands, of awareness-raising events taking place worldwide. Our hats off to Helen Osborne who founded this great effort!
At VIA, our mission is to improve healthcare access for under-served Limited English Speaking (LEP) communities. Health literacy affects us all. In fact, research indicates that today’s health information is presented in ways that are simply unusable by most adults. In today’s rapidly changing environment, it so important to provide health information that effectively contributes to access, informed decisions, and improved outcomes. We can build our own health literacy skills and help others – community members, health professionals, and anyone else who communicates about health – and build their skills, too.
We also like to recognize, celebrate and support organizations that are making a difference in the delivery of healthcare to those communities with Limited English Proficiency. That commitment was the genesis of our Healthcare Translation Grant Program, and remains its mission today. With that focus in mind, we were pleased to announce our 2012 grant recipients this week – Providence Hospital in the District of Columbia and Washington Regional Medical Foundation. We are proud to assist these special non-profit organizations that are committed to improving the health of their communities.
Until next time,
Today, approximately 80 percent of Internet users look to the web for health-related information information. This puts it behind only email and using a search engine as the most common reason for using the Internet.
According to research conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project and the California HealthCare Foundation (CHFC), the number is only growing, with Internet users finding ever more health-related reasons to venture online.
The top five most popular subjects for health-related searches include the following, in order of frequency/popularity:
- A disease or medical problem: 66%.
(The top five issues include: shingles, gallbladder, gout, hemorrhoids, and lupus.)
- A certain medical treatment or procedure: 56%.
(Common terms include: pain relievers, anti-depressants, high blood pressure medication, corticosteroids, and hysterectomy.)
- Doctors or other health professionals: 44%.
- Hospitals or other medical facilities: 36%.
- Health insurance, including private insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid: 33%.
The research revealed that those most likely to look to the web for health information are caregivers, women, whites, younger adults, and adults with at least some college education. But that is changing as the rise of wireless mobile devices enables other groups such as young people, Hispanics, and African Americans to increasingly pursue information online.
Is your web presence prepared to serve these searchers? How about for the growing population of limited English proficient (LSP) patients? If not, it might be time to consult your language services partner.
Till next time,
As Chanin announced here last week, the Speaking Healthcare blog is now under new management. And she has left some big shoes to fill. But I’m really looking forward to continuing to bring you informative posts on healthcare subjects that explore the industry and how medical translation fits into it. Let me thank you up front for joining me.
I thought I would start with a recent piece of news some may have missed. I’m referring to the announcement of the interim final regulations (IFR) for internal claims and appeals and external review processes under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
The rules were put out by the Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and Treasury and include six new requirements. Most important for our purposes with regard to language access is rule number 5.
Called “Enhanced Notice,” it stipulates that a healthcare plan or issuer must provide notice to enrollees in a “culturally and linguistically appropriate manner.” What’s more, if more than an established maximum number of people are only able to speak in a given language, notices in that language are required. A description of available internal appeals and external review processes must also be made available, along with directions about how to begin an appeal. Finally, should additional help be necessary, contact information and the availability of a healthcare insurance ombudsmen must be provided to assist with the internal claims and appeals and external review processes.
It’s exciting to see the language needs of today’s limited English proficient (LEP) patients addressed in such an important context. Model notices for the Enhanced Notice rule are scheduled to be available soon. To review the other new rules, check out this summary.
Until next time,