How summarizing appointments for patients can facilitate understanding
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How a “Patient Visit Summary” Can Help Ensure Understanding Among LEP Patients

Featured Contributor: Tonhi Shi, Stratus Video Vietnamese Interpreter

Patient confusion is something that Stratus Video interpreters deal with every day. Limited English proficiency patients have a harder time than most navigating the US healthcare system. They struggle to communicate through significant language barriers and often struggle with health literacy.

Tonhi Shi, a Vietnamese medical interpreter at Stratus Video encounters this every day. “Too often, I hear patients say...’I don't remember the name of the medication, when I’m supposed to start that med, who gave that to me, or how much I am supposed to take.’” It can even be as grim as patients not knowing what they are diagnosed with, why it is necessary to take certain medications, or adhere to the prescribed treatment plan. This is a steep hill for both providers and interpreters to climb in order to ensure patient understanding. If a patient doesn’t even know what their disease is or how is it affecting them, then how is it possible to obtain informed consent?

Throughout her career as a professional interpreter, Tonhi has taken notice of the way healthcare providers summarize their appointments. Namely, that the visit summary is written in a way that makes sense to the healthcare team but does not necessarily make sense to the patient.

“The information given to patients is often written on so many pages that it becomes overwhelming. Many people tell me they give up after the second page.  It's troubling when I hear a patient say, ‘I have been taking this medicine for years but I don't know why.’ Intake with patients like this is typically very confusing for them and very time-consuming.”

Tonhi suggests that healthcare providers working with LEP patients adopt a Patient Visit Summary that she has drafted based on the most common questions and points of confusion she encounters over video every day. By taking a moment to write out this simple information, many LEP patients will feel more informed and more secure in their knowledge of the care they are receiving. We recommend keeping this summary handy for every clinical or medical appointment.


Doctor seen for this appointment:

Address of the appointment:

My Family/primary physician:

I am here for:

My diagnosis is:

Comments and recommendations for managing my condition:

My current medication list updated on:

Medication list, what I am Taking:

Medication name:

Date Started:

Who prescribed it:

What the medication treats:


My next appointments will be:




            Reason for visit:

Spelling everything out simply and clearly for LEP patients will reduce intake time, improve patient satisfaction, achieve informed consent, and increase positive treatment outcomes.

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