Real Talk: Reimagining the Role of Medical Interpreters

By Alexander Green, MD, MPH on 7/3/18 9:45 AM

This content was originally presented as part of our live learning event, "Expanding the Role of Interpreters in a Value-Based System," by Dr. Alexander Green. View the recorded event here.

As a primary care physician, I take care of a large Spanish-speaking population, among other culturally and socioeconomically diverse patients. I’m fluent in medical Spanish and communicate directly with my Spanish-speaking patients. But regardless of whether I’m speaking Spanish or working with a medical interpreter, visits with limited English proficiency (LEP) patients always leave me with a worried feeling in the pit of my stomach. I’m keenly aware that most healthcare takes place outside of the doctor’s office, and this is where LEP patients fall through the cracks. I wonder, “Did Mrs. Ramirez really understand how to prep for her colonoscopy next week?” or “Was Mr. Luan actually convinced that he needs to take the medication I prescribed for his diabetes?”

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News Roundup | Week of June 15, 2018

By Megan Bedford on 6/15/18 4:02 PM

Why Being Black in America is Bad for Your Health

After more than a year of in-depth reporting in Baltimore, The Atlantic has published a long read that explores why, as a group, black Americans are significantly less healthy than white Americans. The piece follows a woman named Kairra, who is 27, black, very overweight, and suffers from a host of health problems that are usually associated with people three times her age. In Baltimore, as well as other segregated cities like Chicago and Philadelphia, the low-income, mostly black neighborhoods have a life expectancy that is 20 years lower than more affluent, whiter neighborhoods. The gap can be attributed to several factors, including violence, diet, environmental hazards, substance abuse, and stress.

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Best Practices for Working with Medical Interpreters

By Megan Bedford on 6/14/18 9:44 AM

Address the patient, speak clearly, avoid jargon, and check for comprehension

If you’re a healthcare provider who works with some of the 25 million limited English proficient (LEP) patients in the U.S., you know how important interpretation is to successful patient outcomes. Poor communication increases the chance of medical errors with any patient, and LEP individuals are especially vulnerable in this regard.

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News Roundup | Week of June 8, 2018

By Megan Bedford on 6/8/18 3:27 PM

In this week's News Roundup:
  • Creating Financial Success at a Small Rural Hospital
  • Gender Bias Hinders Research in Chronic Disease
  • The Business Case for Racial Equity

Creating Financial Success at a Small Rural Hospital

An in-depth piece from Politico Magazine explores how a small, rural hospital in Kansas has become an economic powerhouse by serving the local refugee/immigrant population and specializing in labor and delivery. Ben Anderson, the hospital's CEO, relies on community partnerships, infrastructure grants, and targeted recruiting. His recruiting model is especially interesting: He attracts young physicians who are interested in helping Third World populations. "You can do that work right here in Kansas," he says. Having a staff that actively seeks to work with diverse populations improves patient experience and outcomes.

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News Roundup | Week of May 25, 2018

By Megan Bedford on 5/25/18 3:41 PM

In this week's News Roundup:
  • Health Equity Bill Introduced in Congress
  • Medical Schools Must Do More to Combat Racism
  • Experiment with Barbershop Clinics is Succeeding

Health Equity Bill Introduced in Congress

The Congressional Tri-Caucus, made up of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, Congressional Black Caucus, and Congressional Hispanic Caucus, has introduced the Health Equity and Accountability Act of 2018 (HEAA), a bill that attempts to address health disparities based on race and ethnicity. The authors note several reasons for these disparities, including language and cultural barriers to care.

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You Signed the #123forEquity Pledge. Now What?

By Megan Bedford on 5/24/18 10:20 AM

To date, 1,656 organizations, 51 state hospital associations, and 11 municipal hospital associations have signed onto the American Hospital Association's (AHA) #123forEquity Pledge to eliminate healthcare disparities. That means every state, and nearly 30% of our nation's hospitals, are represented in the movement to improve health equity. But the road between pledging good intention and effecting actionable change can be poorly marked, and dotted with unseen obstacles. In this post we'll review the key tenets of the AHA's Equity of Care Campaign, rationale for participation, and key actions hospitals and health systems can start to focus on today.

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Is Unconscious Bias Training Useful?

By Michele Courton Brown on 5/20/18 4:36 PM



Unconscious (or implicit) bias training is in the spotlight. From the #MeToo movement to the chorus of outrage over the unwarranted arrests of two black men at a Starbucks, companies are facing increasing public pressure to address the roots of discriminatory treatment.  But questions remain over whether bias training is an effective course of action, versus a perfunctory act taken to avoid bad press.

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News Roundup | Week of May 18, 2018

By Megan Bedford on 5/18/18 5:07 PM

In this week's News Roundup:
  • Near-Miss Mothers: For Every Woman Who Dies Post-Childbirth, Thousands More Come Close
  • Surging Opioid Overdose Rate in Latinos Tied to Language Barriers
  • More Transgender-Inclusive Healthcare is Essential

Near-Miss Mothers: For Every Woman Who Dies Post-Childbirth, Thousands More Come Close

The maternal mortality rates in the U.S. are grim, but the number of women who suffer postpartum complications that nearly cause death are even worse. For every woman who dies after childbirth, at least 70 come close. Some estimates put the number of women who suffer "severe maternal morbidity" at around 80,000 per year. A report by NPR/ProPublica finds that many of these complications are preventable, and there's a common theme that postpartum mothers don't feel their concerns are taken seriously by healthcare providers.

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News Roundup | Week of May 11, 2018

By Megan Bedford on 5/11/18 2:10 PM

In this week's News Roundup:
  • Unconscious Bias Training Can Ease Crisis in Black Maternal Mortality
  • Stigmatizing Language in Medical Records Affects Patient Care
  • Discrimination Causes Latinas to Be Less Satisfied with Contraception
  • Documentary Explores Desegregation of Healthcare System

Unconscious Bias Training Can Ease Crisis in Black Maternal Mortality

We've reported extensively on the dismal maternal mortality rates in the U.S., and the crisis in black maternal mortality in particular. A new piece by NBC News follows the stories of two black mothers who experienced serious complications with their deliveries. Both women felt their medical teams were dismissive and brusque, and that their health problems may have been avoided with better communication. They are among the 32% of black women who feel they’ve been discriminated against in physicians’ offices. Unconscious (or implicit) bias on the part of healthcare providers has very real consequences for patient outcomes. Bias training may not be the complete solution, but it is part of the solution, and should become a standard practice in all medical schools and healthcare organizations.

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News Roundup | Week of May 4, 2018

By Megan Bedford on 5/4/18 11:07 AM

In this week's News Roundup:

How Empathy Keeps People Out of the Hospital

Growing evidence shows that more empathetic care can keep people healthier and reduce hospital visits. A new piece by NPR's Marketplace profiles Philadelphia's Penn Center for Community Health Workers, which pairs community health workers with patients who frequent hospitals due to chronic illness, poverty, or mental health problems. The community health workers visit patients at their homes and help them navigate their health issues. The Penn Center makes an effort to match its staff with patients who share a similar background, in order to inspire trust. A randomized, controlled study showed the Center reduced hospitalizations by 30%.

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