Learning and Localization Blog

Meaningful Patient Engagement Through Language Access

Published on Mar 25, 2021
Partnering with LSPs improves patient outcomes and keeps you compliant

Meaningful Patient Engagement

As the global healthcare industry shifts toward a patient-centric model, patient engagement has become a critical component in the pursuit of the “‘triple aim’ of improved health outcomes, better patient care, and lower costs.”1 

Patient engagement has even been referred to as the “holy grail of healthcare” and the “next blockbuster drug”2 due to its potential to revolutionize the healthcare industry worldwide. This evolution of medical care has been further accelerated by new federal regulations and the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now more than ever before, there is an overwhelming need to effectively communicate with our culturally and linguistically diverse patient population. By leveraging the power of effective communication, the healthcare industry will help to improve patient outcomes while remaining legally compliant.

Linguistic Diversity in the United States

For patients, the sheer volume of medical documentation can be overwhelming. The problem is compounded for patients with limited English proficiency (LEP) who are “less likely to have their symptoms controlled…[more likely to] remain in hospitals longer[,] and more likely to return after discharge.”3

According to the US Census Bureau, 21 percent of the nation's households speak a language other than English.



In fact, the United States is now home to 36 million* limited-English proficient (LEP) residents, and roughly 8.7% (or 3.1 million) of the LEP population
receives Medicare, Medicaid, or both. As the largest health insurers in the United States, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) are governed by federal legislation that requires healthcare institutions to provide LEP persons with “equitable access to care.”4

*7.6% of the US population comprises the LEP “speaking” population and 3.3% of the country's residents identify as deaf or hard of hearing, bringing the total US-LEP population to just under 11%.

Equitable Language Access — It's the Law

Legal Compliance with CMS

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid are “putting patients first” by “giving them meaningful information about quality and costs”5 in a language that they understand. According to the CMS, “[g]ood translation requires cultural and linguistic adaptation." CMS also highlights the necessity of translating “for meaning (rather than word for word) in a culturally sensitive way", and further emphasizes the need to translate "words and concepts that are unfamiliar to readers of the target language.”6

Legal Compliance with DHH

According to 45 CFR § 155.205, website content and any documentation that is “critical for obtaining health insurance coverage or access to health care services… must be translated into any non-English language that is spoken by a limited English proficient population that reaches 10 percent or more of the population of the relevant state.”7 This includes (but is not limited to) documentation for Medicare and Medicaid, taglines, consent authorization forms, compliance documentation, medical questionnaires, patient surveys, patient portals, and patient discharge instructions. 

Federal Penalties and Rewards

With the introduction of the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program (HRRP), Section 1557, and the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey, the federal government is exercising the "carrot and stick" approach as a way to place the patient first. In fact, each of these regulations has the power to cause significant financial loss — or gain — in federal funding, and it all comes down to language access. In other words, healthcare facilities that invest in appropriate language access for LEP patients lessen the likelihood of monetary penalties and increase their chances of monetary rewards.

With so much at stake, a growing number of healthcare institutions are turning to language services providers (LSPs) to assist in ensuring they remain legally compliant.

The Measurable Benefits of Language Access

But it isn't all about penalties and rewards. Language access provides a great many additional benefits for both the healthcare industry and patients alike:

Effective communication matters.

Language Access Puts Patients First

By providing meaningful access, not only will all patients have the ability to play an active role in managing their own healthcare but providers gain a leading edge in the competitive healthcare market. Patients deserve a seat at the table when decisions are being made that impact their lives, their health, and their finances.The healthcare industry as a whole would be well-served to look to the future and make language access a priority. The only question is how how do you actively engage patients, and how do you maintain that engagement? The key lies in partnering with an LSP with healthcare expertise. 

Ingenuiti — Your Trusted Healthcare Translation Experts

Effective communication with patients throughout their medical experience yields longlasting, tangible benefits. Without question, patient engagement leads to patient empowerment and improved patient care. For that reason, it is imperative to partner with an LSP specialized in the healthcare and life sciences industries. When researching a language services partner for your healthcare and life sciences documentation, remember to look for:

  • Industry specialization
  • Advanced technology
  • Linguistic expertise

Luckily, at Ingenuiti, we offer all three. In fact, we have spent decades cultivating language services expertise in the life sciences and healthcare industries. With Ingenuiti's multicultural team of experienced, native-speaking linguists coupled with our advanced technology, we confidently and accurately translate medical documentation into as many languages as needed. From translating training materials in the medical device and pharma sectors to the translation of IFUs, consent authorization, taglines, patient discharge instructions, Medicare/Medicaid compliance documentation, medical questionnaires, patient surveys and more, Ingenuiti delivers measurable value for all our clients. Partner with Ingenuiti and together, we'll help you remain legally compliant and improve patient outcomes.

Reach out today to Ingenuiti.

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