Cross-Cultural Communication Strategy: Improve Your Health System’s Patient Satisfaction Scores with Training and More Inclusion

May 7, 2018

// By Jill Mead //

Jill MeadWith patient experience increasingly recognized as connected to a host of measures, including patient outcomes and your bottom line, it’s essential to reach all of your target populations with education and messaging that resonate with people’s cultural backgrounds and native languages.

More than ever before in our history, U.S. hospital and health system financial health is tied to patient experience. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) directly tie reimbursement rates to Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Services (HCAHPS) scores. The concept of “patient as consumer” continues to grow. Like consumers in every other industry in today’s Yelp-review society, patients can help or harm hospitals, physicians’ offices, clinics, and the like — through online reviews, social media posts, and of course, word of mouth, too.

Additionally, more data emerges every day establishing the strong connection between positive patient experience and improved clinical outcomes, increased patient adherence to medical advice, improved patient safety practices, and lower utilization of unnecessary health services. Positive patient experience is necessary not only for the health and well-being of your patients, but also for your bottom line.

Exploring the Nuances of Patient Experience Initiatives

Patient experience initiatives are rewarding, but often challenging. The challenge grows exponentially when you add language and cultural barriers. Creating a positive patient experience for Limited English Proficient (LEP) patient populations is no easy task. We know the law requires providing qualified interpreters and translated vital medical documents; interpreting and translating form a solid foundation for creating positive patient experiences for LEP populations. But language access is not the only factor in patient experience for LEP patients and their loved ones.

Beyond interpreting and translating, two factors that U.S. hospitals and health systems sometimes overlook can have a major impact on patient experience for these populations:

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