Tailoring Messages to Better Fit the Latino Community
How to Overcome 5 Common Challenges to Health Care Organizations’ Cultural Outreach Efforts
// By Lisa D. Ellis //
What if you were in a foreign country and needed emergency medical care but couldn’t communicate effectively with the health care providers there? This could put your life at risk, if you and your provider couldn’t understand each other fully.
While this might sound like a nightmare, it’s a scenario that’s also all too common for many people living in the United States who don’t speak fluent English, according to Arminda “Mindy” Figueroa, Founder and President of Latin2Latin Marketing + Communications, based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. In fact, she points out that people from other cultures regularly have trouble navigating the complex American medical system, which can result in dangerous medical errors.
Cultural Barriers to Navigating the Medical System
Selecting a doctor, making an appointment, finding the doctor’s office, and communicating with the provider and staff about symptoms and concerns are just some of the basic tasks that can be quite overwhelming for people who are newer to the United States and not fully comfortable talking, listening, and reading in English.
While the consequences can be serious—or even fatal—for patients, they can also be very expensive for health care providers and facilities, which can put themselves at risk for being sued if they commit an avoidable medical error.
Further, while some hospitals have tele-translation services for people who don’t speak English, often this is not enough. Patients and their families need someone in person who can not only relate accurate medical information but who also understands the cultural nuances and can help the patient effectively communicate his or her questions and concerns about the information being shared.
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