With the COVID-19 vaccine rollout underway, the end of the pandemic may soon be in sight. Yet healthcare professionals still face the daunting task of vaccinating millions of residents in the coming months. Vaccine distribution, misinformation, and a lack of language support for limited English proficient (LEP) populations all pose major challenges to their success.
Fortunately, with the proper planning, healthcare organizations can better serve LEP members using a combination of multilingual outreach and language services. In this article, we’ll offer guidance on the ways in which you can improve vaccination rates and member care in these communities.
Vaccine Outreach in LEP Communities
Given the diversity within the LEP population, a one-size-fits–all approach is probably not your best bet. Views on vaccines, healthcare, and the medical establishment vary among cultures. For example, a Langer Research study found that only 34% of Latinos trust that the vaccine is safe—despite being a high-risk group.
Before you launch a campaign that targets a specific community, you need to develop messaging that will resonate with them. That may mean addressing fears about safety, misinformation about side effects, and other misconceptions about healthcare in general.
Next, you need to decide which materials need to be translated. We recommend translating digital outreach such as:
- Fact sheets and member information web pages from pharmaceutical companies and government health agencies
- Information about vaccines and insurance coverage
- Social media and video campaigns
- Apps that help members and patients track symptoms
- SMS campaigns
We also recommend translating any direct mail or member information you plan to send. Mailers not only give recipients something tangible, but they’re also more accessible. Not everyone uses social media or has internet access.
LEP Members and Vaccine Appointments
Outreach in multiple languages is a great first step, but LEP speakers also need language support before, during, and sometimes after a vaccine appointment. Yet a study conducted at Seattle Children’s Hospital found that only 45.4% of families who preferred a non-English language used an interpreter during a visit. And interpretation services were even less common during busier times of the day. This underutilization often leaves members struggling to communicate with providers and unable to understand procedures, recommendations, and treatment options.
Due to the risks of COVID-19, bringing a medical interpreter onsite may not be a viable option. However, over-the-phone interpreting (OPI) and video remote interpreting (VRI) make it easy to connect with one remotely. The method you choose will depend on the circumstances.
OPI works well when members:
- Need to make an appointment over the phone.
- Have questions about health insurance coverage and/or costs.
- Have questions about the side effects they’re experiencing.
VRI works well during:
- In-person appointments. Allowing the member to see the interpreter helps build trust.
- Telehealth appointments regarding side effects a member is experiencing.
- Hospital visits, in the rare event a member needs to be hospitalized due to a severe reaction.
Translated member information leaflets from the pharmaceutical company, fact sheets, and other member-facing materials are also useful. These help members understand what to expect and provide guidance on which side effects may require follow up care.
Choosing a Language Services Provider
As you can see, removing language barriers requires a combination of culturally-appropriate translation and interpreting services. That’s why you need a language services company that knows how to serve LEP communities. At Avantpage, we work with healthcare providers, government organizations, life sciences companies, and health insurance carriers to provide LEP speakers with the language support they need.
Ready to start your next translation project? Contact us today to find out how we can help!