LEP Patients’ Barriers to Care
English-only healthcare communications can be limited in their impact with patients who primarily speak or prefer a language other than English for their day-to-day communications. For patients with limited English proficiency (LEP), linguistic and cultural barriers can result in misunderstandings regarding diagnosis, treatment, and self-care. Medication instructions and follow-up care plans might not be fully understood, resulting in non-compliance. There may be a hesitancy to ask questions for clarification or request assistance with emerging conditions, resulting in an exacerbation of chronic conditions which can lead to a rehospitalization. These scenarios can lead to lower patient satisfaction and worse outcomes for LEP patients.
The Critical Role of Interpretation in Telehealth
According to a report recently issued by the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative and the UCLA Health Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture, “culture, needs, and population demographics must be taken into account” when designing and implementing telehealth. In the example of California, the report’s authors indicate that the state’s Latino community must be core to the development of technological interventions:
- As nearly half (44%) of the population speaks a language other than English at home, “medical interpretation will need to be systematically incorporated into telehealth.”
- The healthcare system should “enables our most vulnerable patients to seek and receive remote care with any and every modality available to them.”
Overlooking the role of interpretation in a virtual care platform can unfortunately raise another barrier for the LEP patient population. Real-time access to interpretation during virtual visits will help all patients better understand their condition and follow-through on their treatment plan.
How Synzi Supports LEP Patient Populations
A virtual care communication platform allows a home health clinician to quickly include a medical interpreter into a video call in order to ensure that the patient fully comprehends the care being provided and the expectations going forward. Synzi’s telehealth solution provides clinicians with the ability to easily include medically qualified video interpreters for LEP as well as Deaf & Hard of Hearing patients.
Ongoing messaging can also be translated into the patient’s primary or preferred language to deepen patient understanding and engagement. With Synzi, home health agencies can send translated messages to their patients with ongoing medication, dietary, exercise, and general health guidance. Synzi uses human translators to provide messaging in the languages commonly spoken by an organization’s patients. Using email and text to engage patients (and their family caregivers) will drive better patient engagement during the episode of care; communicating the message in the language of a patient’s choice is critical to understanding.
Successful home health agencies are able to deliver the best care – meaning, care that is timely, responsive, and appropriate (linguistically and culturally) for each patient and their respective family/home situation – in the post-acute stage with virtual care. Referral sources also value the Synzi platform’s ability to help a home health agency better engage patients who are part of the LEP population. Synzi’s HIPAA-compliant virtual care platform allows staff to continually communicate with all patients via video, email, text, and secure messaging in order to check on patient progress and reinforce the treatment plan while elevating the patient experience.