By Joanna Oseman

Let’s face it–navigating our healthcare system can be a challenge for anyone. From finding a provider to searching for the right form, it’s almost never a simple activity. Now imagine that you don’t speak or read English as you try to navigate through our healthcare system. Think about what a challenge that would be. With 25 million Americans speaking English less than very well, this scenario is unfortunately all too common.

So what can be done about it? Healthcare providers have the opportunity to explore what it’s like for a Limited English Proficient (LEP) patient and their family to navigate their way by mapping out a patient journey and then exploring options to make improvements.

What’s a Patient Journey?

A patient journey is a process of looking at the patient experience with a healthcare provider during each touchpoint in the process. It begins when a patient starts searching for a provider (pre-visit) to the appointment (visit) through after-care (post-visit). Going through the exercise of mapping out this journey can help providers see where there are gaps or areas that could use improvement, leading to better overall experiences and reducing inefficiencies.

A patient journey for someone who’s a native English speaker is one type of experience. For those who aren’t native English speakers, that patient journey can look quite different due to the language barrier, both written and verbal. Let’s take a look at the LEP patient experience.

Pre-Visit

Doing research online to find, validate, and evaluate healthcare providers is the way of the future. Check out these interesting statistics about the pre-visit step:

What does this mean for healthcare providers?

Think about the online (including mobile) pre-visit experience. What is that experience like for the LEP population? Can they easily find your business? Are they able to read about it in their language or is it English only? To attract more members, consider the following actions:

  1. Localize your website, including any online scheduling system and patient portal, plus any important assets such as videos. Localizing is more than translating words—it means adapting an asset for a specific target language and locale. Even if words are translated, they may not be appropriate for the target audience. Expert linguists know how to do this.
  2. Translate and format any necessary documents, such as patient forms, outreach materials, billing paperwork, FAQs, and more.
  3. Provide over-the-phone interpreting (OPI) and video-remote interpreting (VRI) services for appointment making and general questions.

Visit

The actual visit includes everything from finding the office (maps and signage), the check-in process (electronic or paper plus any COVID-related instructions), the appointment itself, and any necessary paperwork (educational resources, follow-up instructions, referral information, and more).

What does this mean for healthcare providers?

Consider each step of the appointment process, and evaluate the experience for the LEP population.

  1. Is your signage clear and multilingual?
  2. Does your check-in process, including any special instructions due to COVID-19, accommodate your LEP members?
  3. Do you provide qualified interpreters for the check-in process and the appointment? LEP members sometimes bring family members or friends to interpret. Although this is a step above not having any interpreter, lack of knowledge in medical terminology may lead to negative health outcomes for the patient. It also puts added pressure on a family member at what can already be a difficult time.
  4. Do you translate any necessary written materials, including vital documents?

Post-Visit

The experience doesn’t end with the appointment. There might be follow-up appointments to make, calls with test results, care instructions, updates in patient portals, and more.

What does this mean for healthcare providers?

While the post-visit process varies for each individual, the same concepts that we mentioned earlier also apply here.

  1. Translate standard and vital documentation.
  2. Provide over-the-phone and video-remote interpreters for verbal communication.

Avantpage Support Throughout the Patient Journey

At Avantpage, we provide a full suite of translation and interpretation services aimed at meeting the needs of immigrants and other LEP populations. One of our core industries is healthcare; we believe in promoting health through quality translation. We understand the LEP member journey, and we’re here to support you. We offer all the core services to enhance the LEP member journey, including localization and translation as well as interpretation, in over 150 languages.

Conclusion

Visit our website to learn more about how we can help healthcare providers improve their customers’ experiences while also realizing process efficiencies. Read more about how healthcare organizations can support their LEP members in providing multilanguage support.

For more information, contact us at info@avantpage.com or (530) 750-2040. We’re here to support your LEP patients’ journeys.