LEP Patient Adherence: 3 Tips for Improvement
A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine analyzing language concordance and patient adherence found inadequate overall adherence in more than 60% of LEP patients with type 2 diabetes who were newly prescribed diabetes medications. This, among other countless studies, demonstrates the dire necessity of effective communication in healthcare. For LEP patients, this means access to a qualified medical interpreter.
The Joint Commission explains, “effective communication allows patients to participate more fully in their care. When a patient understands what is being said about his or her care, treatment, and services, that patient is more likely to fulfill critical health care responsibilities.”
Tips to Improve LEP Patient Adherence
1. Get a qualified interpreter. Patient adherence improves when LEP patients are provided with interpretation services. Once patients adhere to care plans, they are less likely to return with the same complaints and/or be readmitted to the hospital post discharge. Depending on the nature of the healthcare encounter, interpreters can either come onsite or be reached over video or phone. For follow up communication post discharge with LEP patients or virtual consults between onsite visits, video interpreters can be added to telehealth calls with Stratus Link. Learn more about our VRI interoperabilities with telehealth and how they can be utilized to improve health equity at your facility here.
2. Do not use an untrained, ad-hoc interpreter. The use of family members and/or bilingual staff is not recommended, has been shown to result in communication error and is expressly prohibited, barring extreme circumstance, by Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act. If an interpreter is not available onsite, providers can use video remote interpretation or over the phone interpretation services to quickly connect the LEP patient with an interpreter in the language needed.
3. Ensure meaningful understanding of informed consent documents. This is essential for both those with limited health literacy and limited English proficiency. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ policy and procedure for communication with LEP persons recommends hospitals translate vital documents into frequently encountered languages. If an additional language is encountered, providers can request that the medical interpreter perform a sight translation of the document. This is where the interpreter reads the text in English and then recites it verbally in the language of the patient. Deaf and Hard of Hearing patients with limited health literacy may require the use of a Certified Deaf Interpreter. Learn more about how to identify when your patients need a CDI here.
As explained by the Joint Commission, for patients to effectively follow care plans, they must be able to understand them. Qualified interpreters are trained in medical terminology and have extensive experience interpreting for patients in need of language services in a variety of healthcare environments. When healthcare providers suspect meaningful understanding is not taking place, they can instantly connect with a qualified interpreter with VRI.