The types of languages spoken are one of the deciding factors when patients look for care and services. Oftentimes, multi-cultural patients come into their doctor appointments wondering “Will my doctor speak my language?” For example, a Mandarin-speaking patient residing in Chicago will be more likely to pick a doctor who is close to them, and who has Mandarin as one of the languages spoken in their office.
Healthcare systems, how are you responding?
As I discuss in a recently published column for Becker’s Health IT & CIO review, hospitals and healthcare systems can compete more effectively in a multicultural society in a number of important ways — for example, incorporating capabilities such as provider locators in multiple languages on their physician directory. A highly optimized physician directory for multicultural patients should have relevant search tool functionality, such as proximity, insurance accepted, gender, and most importantly, languages spoken, and personalized content for the unique needs of multicultural patients.
Within the past few years, we also have seen a boom of mobile apps and software platforms that allow for medical translations when there are no bilingual staff or medical interpreters present. Federal law ensures all healthcare providers that receive federal funding provide languages to patients who need them. For example, New York based company Transcendent Endeavors just released a touch-screen software that lets patients click a pained face, which will then alert a nurse for help, and allow nurses to track the type and time of services requested.