Reducing Healthcare Disparities with Technology

Reducing Healthcare Disparities with Technology

Nilmini Wickramasinghe (Epworth HealthCare, Australia & RMIT, Australia), Ray Arias (Arias IS, USA), Jeff Wilgus (Arias IS, USA) and Chris Gonzalez (Northwestern Memorial Hospital, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5888-2.ch335
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More than 23 million Americans today have limited English proficiency, which in turn has a negative impact on their ability to receive and comprehend appropriate healthcare delivery (Youdelman, 2008; Flores et al., 2008). Such language barriers in healthcare contexts typically lead to problems such as delay or denial of services, issues with medication management, and underutilization of preventative services (Green et al., 2005; Jacobs et al., 2004; Ghandi et al., 2000). Furthermore, difficulty in communication also limits clinicians’ ability to understand patient symptoms and effectively provide treatment (Karliner et al., 2004). The literature suggests that the quality of communication between patients and providers is strongly associated with providers’ ability to deliver better and safer care (Ponce et al., 2006) and thus LEP patients are more likely to receive inferior care due to language and communication related problems(ibid). Language services, such as translation and interpretation, can facilitate this communication and thus improve healthcare quality, the patient experience, adherence to recommended care and ultimately health outcomes (Flores, 2005; Jacobs et al., 2006; Karliner et al., 2007).

Although Title VI of the Civil Rights Act 1964 has always required that entities receiving federal funds provide language services to those with LEP, the law has not often been enforced in healthcare settings(Jacobs et al., 2006). However, awareness of the need to provide language services in healthcare has increased in recent years (Youdelman & Perkins, 2002).

Key Terms in this Chapter

LEP-Limited English Proficiency: Individuals for whom English is not their native language and thus have difficulty communicating and understanding in English.

Healthcare Delivery: The network, structure and stakeholders involved in administering medical care to individuals.

Meaningful Use: Federal government stipulation for technology solutions in healthcare.

Cloud-Based Computing (or Cloud Computing): When computing resources such as software and hardware are delivered as a service over a network.

Human Interpreter: Person who performs language translation.

Language Translation: The act of converting the meaning into a different language.

Real-Time Translation: Translation that happens instantaneously at the point of action.

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