Eliminating Communications Roadblocks to Quality
Health Care for Spanish-Speakers
Hablamos Juntos is supporting ten health care
organizations working to improve health care for Latino patients
by breaking down language barriers that can lead to medical errors,
compromise the overall quality of care, and limit Latino access
to health care services. These demonstration sites will focus on
developing and implementing practical steps that health
care providers throughout the country can adopt to overcome language
roadblocks that compromise care.
All demonstration sites are focused on three
essential benchmarks for improving health care services:
- Increase the availability and quality of interpretation services
for Latino patients who speak little English;
- Provide useful informational materials in Spanish; and
- Develop easy-to-understand ways for non-English speaking patients
to find their way around health care facilities.
Increase the availability and quality of interpretation
services for Latino patients who speak little English.
To reach this goal, demonstration sites will
assess the interpreter services and Spanish materials currently
available to Latino patients who speak little English. Sites will
train more staff to successfully communicate with or interpret
for Latino patients. The sites will monitor their trial programs’ success
at reducing communication barriers for Latino patients. Specifically, each site will:
Develop and train staff
Demonstration sites will use Interpreter Readiness Assessment tools
developed for Hablamos Juntos to review the language and interpreting
ability of all bilingual staff used intermittently as interpreters.
Sites will use or develop introductory courses to orient bilingual
staff to the role of interpreting. The goal of the assessment is
to develop individual improvement plans for bilingual staff and to
prepare them to function as interpreters within their abilities.
Establish a professional interpreter
Using the guidelines put forth by Hablamos Juntos, demonstration sites
will establish educational programs to train professional interpreters
using a more extensive curriculum than is currently available. All
professional interpreters will be required to complete at least 220
classroom hours, and another 80 to 100 hours of on-the-job training.
Demonstration sites working with local educational institutions will
fund the training of at least two qualified instructors to develop
and teach the recommended curriculum locally. Sites will also develop
a mentoring program that pairs new staff interpreters with experienced
interpreters and enables interpreters to convene at least once a month
to learn from one another.
Build organizational support
Demonstration sites will solicit the support of executive leadership
of the local health care organizations to foster policies that promote
effective language services and continuous staff development in their
facilities. All staff will be trained to use language services and
taught how to communicate with patients using interpreters. Special
attention will be paid to eliminating language barriers for Spanish-speaking
patients at key access points, such as receptionist and appointment
desk, using solutions that combine staff language ability with telephone
and computer technology.
Develop outside partnerships
Hablamos Juntos demonstration sites will reach beyond health care facilities
and support community efforts to promote better communication between
Latinos and health care providers. Efforts will include increasing
bilingual abilities of both English and non-English speakers; encouraging
medical schools and other health science programs to prepare future
health care professionals to work through interpreters and in multilingual
environments; encouraging local leaders to invest in English as a
Second Language programs; and using the media and other vehicles
to promote understanding and support for language services in health
Provide Useful Informational Materials in Spanish
Demonstration sites will identify ways to improve
communication with Latino patients by creating Spanish versions
of important health care materials that are currently only available
in English. In addition to print materials, sites will explore
the effectiveness of other communications tools, such as videos
or computer kiosks. Specifically, each site will:
- Provide better materials. Demonstration sites
will develop procedures for determining which materials to develop
in Spanish, identifying material that can be effectively translated
from an English version, material to create anew or develop in
- Develop contracting guidelines. Sites will
develop standards for all outside contractors to use when creating
or translating health care related materials for Spanish speakers.
- Evaluate new products. To determine the usability
of their existing and new products, the sites will use the Spanish
Language Materials Evaluation Tool provided by Hablamos Juntos.
Develop easy-to-understand ways for patients to
find their way around health care facilities.
Demonstration sites will develop and test a health
signage system that uses pictograms and symbols to help Latino
and other patients who speak little English find their way around
health care facilities. Specifically, each site will:
- Test a health signage system. Hablamos Juntos
will engage design engineers, health care workers, and consumers
in developing a signage system for health care facilities. We
will test pictograms and symbols that are easily recognizable
to a wide cross-section of patients and health care professionals.
Demonstration sites will gather data about the usefulness for
multilingual and Latino patients who speak little English or
are unable to read well to establish a health signage system
that can be adopted and replicated in other health care facilities.
you have further questions about the Hablamos Juntos Project,
please direct them to email@example.com or
call our office at 559.241.6532.