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Communication: A Key Component of Patient Care

Hospitals that have adopted a more patient centered approach to care have been shown to have better patient outcome. A key component of patient centered care is communication. When patients can effectively communicate with their providers, they tend to more fully engage in their care plans.

Effective communication builds trust. This is vital in healthcare, as the level of confidence that the patient has in the provider greatly impacts the level at which the patient adheres to his or her care plans.

When patients do not speak English, are limited English proficient (LEP), Deaf or Hard of Hearing, a medical interpreter must be used for effective communication to take place. In addition to better patient adherence, LEP patients tend to be more satisfied with their care when they are provided with qualified interpretation services.

In some areas of the United States, where the LEP population is particularly high, the use of a medical interpreter can significantly increase Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) scores, as the survey primarily measures patient satisfaction. In addition, more than half of the survey asks patients to rate specific aspects of communication, including:

  • Doctor communication
  • Nurse communication
  • Staff responsiveness
  • Medication communication
  • Discharge information

As part of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, acute care hospitals subject to the Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS) must gather and provide HCAHPS data to receive their full IPPS annual payment. If HCAHPS scores are not publicly reported as required, IPPS payments may be reduced. Hospitals can take a significant stride towards improving their score and the level of care provided to patients by investing in better communication.

When it comes to LEP patients, interpretation is a crucial component of care. Researchers at the University of California, in conjunction with the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities, analyzed more than 150 encounters with Spanish and Chinese speaking patients. The study concluded that patients with access to an interpreter were more likely to meet criteria for adequately informed consent and experience a higher level of clinical care than patients who were not provided with language services.

We are dedicated to improving lives through better communication. Our interpreters handle emergency situations, complex diagnosis descriptions, psychological assessments, and regularly scheduled appointments. They are trained and ready to adapt to any situation they enter, acting as a cultural bridge between patient and provider. Learn more about our suite of language service offerings and how they can be utilized to improve communication at your facility.

For more information on HCAHPS, download our white paper, Improving your HCAHPS Scores: Driving Patient Satisfaction and Empathetic Care.

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