SDoH: The Intersection of Language and Healthcare

This story is in recognition of National Hispanic Heritage Month.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Office of Minority Health has released healthcare materials that are targeted for our Hispanic patient population in honor and support for National Hispanic heritage month. 

The recognition is key since Hispanic people have lower rates of health insurance coverage compared to their non-Hispanic counterparts and are disproportionately affected by chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, cancer, and health disease (Health Observance, 2022). To combat this disparity, the question is posed, “Are we providing our outreach and education in a culturally supportive means?”

I think this is a good reminder to assess and consider English as a second language is often a barrier to the care provided in the United States. 

Remembering my days on the frontline as a medical social worker, there were numerous cases where I was working with Spanish speaking patients and families. I would try to complete my initial assessments and coordination of care services by relying on the hospital translator services which at the time was a blue phone that was never conveniently located in the hospital. 

Eventually I moved to my cell phone putting translator services on speaker in the patient room to get us through the various care coordination and social work discussions. I remember I would often watch providers roll in the room and use family members as the official translator for the patient’s medical care and consents for procedures. Thankfully, hospital policies have progressed, so hopefully this is no longer common practice. 

However, how often in the clinical setting are we asking the question to our bilingual patients, “Would you prefer a translator or interpreter in your native or primary language?” Here are a couple of examples of why this important. I often listen to our partner podcast, Talk Ten Tuesday, and each Tuesday I hear Laurie Johnson and Dr. Erica Remer list diagnoses and ICD-10 codes that I can’t even pronounce. Despite my advance degree, I have a health literacy deficit in understanding all the nuances of the physician and coding world. 

Now, let’s take another example. What if I were in another country, where I did not speak the native language and needed medical care. How would I feel if that doctor speaking to me, as I felt sick or in pain, did not speak my language. I would be lost; I would be frustrated, and I would be completely helpless. 

This month, the CMS Office of Minority Health is asking us to take the time to provide culturally relevant and linguistically appropriate materials to our patients.  It is as simple as ensuring our patient education and consents are available in Spanish. 

Now today’s question: How many of you, like me, have failed to consistently provide translation services or culturally relevant materials when providing services to our English as a second language patients?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Does not apply

The responses from the Monitor Monday listener survey may surprise you, and can be viewed here.

Programming Note: Listen to Tiffany Ferguson live reporting on the SDoH every Monday on Monitor Mondays at 10 Eastern.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn

Tiffany Ferguson, LMSW, CMAC, ACM

Tiffany Ferguson is CEO of Phoenix Medical Management, Inc., the care management company. Tiffany serves on the ACPA Observation Subcommittee. Tiffany is a contributor to RACmonitor, Case Management Monthly, and commentator for Finally Friday. After practicing as a hospital social worker, she went on to serve as Director of Case Management and quickly assumed responsibilities in system level leadership roles for Health and Care Management and c-level responsibility for a large employed medical group. Tiffany received her MSW at UCLA. She is a licensed social worker, ACM, and CMAC certified.

Related Stories

Remain Compliant – and Take the Money

Remain Compliant – and Take the Money

Our first topic today is local coverage determinations (LCDs) and variation. I have written in the past about national and local coverage determinations, and I

Read More

Leave a Reply

Please log in to your account to comment on this article.

Featured Webcasts

Leveraging the CERT: A New Coding and Billing Risk Assessment Plan

Leveraging the CERT: A New Coding and Billing Risk Assessment Plan

Frank Cohen shows you how to leverage the Comprehensive Error Rate Testing Program (CERT) to create your own internal coding and billing risk assessment plan, including granular identification of risk areas and prioritizing audit tasks and functions resulting in decreased claim submission errors, reduced risk of audit-related damages, and a smoother, more efficient reimbursement process from Medicare.

April 9, 2024
2024 Observation Services Billing: How to Get It Right

2024 Observation Services Billing: How to Get It Right

Dr. Ronald Hirsch presents an essential “A to Z” review of Observation, including proper use for Medicare, Medicare Advantage, and commercial payers. He addresses the correct use of Observation in medical patients and surgical patients, and how to deal with the billing of unnecessary Observation services, professional fee billing, and more.

March 21, 2024
Top-10 Compliance Risk Areas for Hospitals & Physicians in 2024: Get Ahead of Federal Audit Targets

Top-10 Compliance Risk Areas for Hospitals & Physicians in 2024: Get Ahead of Federal Audit Targets

Explore the top-10 federal audit targets for 2024 in our webcast, “Top-10 Compliance Risk Areas for Hospitals & Physicians in 2024: Get Ahead of Federal Audit Targets,” featuring Certified Compliance Officer Michael G. Calahan, PA, MBA. Gain insights and best practices to proactively address risks, enhance compliance, and ensure financial well-being for your healthcare facility or practice. Join us for a comprehensive guide to successfully navigating the federal audit landscape.

February 22, 2024
Mastering Healthcare Refunds: Navigating Compliance with Confidence

Mastering Healthcare Refunds: Navigating Compliance with Confidence

Join healthcare attorney David Glaser, as he debunks refund myths, clarifies compliance essentials, and empowers healthcare professionals to safeguard facility finances. Uncover the secrets behind when to refund and why it matters. Don’t miss this crucial insight into strategic refund management.

February 29, 2024
2024 SDoH Update: Navigating Coding and Screening Assessment

2024 SDoH Update: Navigating Coding and Screening Assessment

Happy World Health Day! Our exclusive webcast is just $99 for a limited time! Use code WorldHealth24 at checkout before April 12th to claim this discount.

Dive deep into the world of Social Determinants of Health (SDoH) coding with our comprehensive webcast. Explore the latest OPPS codes for 2024, understand SDoH assessments, and discover effective strategies for integrating coding seamlessly into healthcare practices. Gain invaluable insights and practical knowledge to navigate the complexities of SDoH coding confidently. Join us to unlock the potential of coding in promoting holistic patient care.

May 22, 2024
2024 ICD-10-CM/PCS Coding Clinic Update Webcast Series

2024 ICD-10-CM/PCS Coding Clinic Update Webcast Series

HIM coding expert, Kay Piper, RHIA, CDIP, CCS, reviews the guidance and updates coders and CDIs on important information in each of the AHA’s 2024 ICD-10-CM/PCS Quarterly Coding Clinics in easy-to-access on-demand webcasts, available shortly after each official publication.

April 15, 2024

Trending News

Happy National Doctor’s Day! Learn how to get a complimentary webcast on ‘Decoding Social Admissions’ as a token of our heartfelt appreciation! Click here to learn more →

Happy World Health Day! Our exclusive webcast, ‘2024 SDoH Update: Navigating Coding and Screening Assessment,’  is just $99 for a limited time! Use code WorldHealth24 at checkout.

SPRING INTO SAVINGS! Get 21% OFF during our exclusive two-day sale starting 3/21/2024. Use SPRING24 at checkout to claim this offer. Click here to learn more →