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9 metrics to measure ROI of language services in healthcare

March 31, 2018 Compliance

9 metrics to measure ROI of language services in healthcare

Most healthcare providers agree that broader language access improves outcomes for patients with limited English proficiency. As patient populations become increasingly diverse, facilities need flexible ways to provide language services across a network of locations.

That’s why language access plans often call on a mix of services, including on-site interpretation,video remote interpretation,phone interpretation, and translation and localization.

To identify where language services are having an impact on their organizations, providers can look to some of the key performance indicators they’re already using to measure overall success, including:

Mistake events

Prevention of medical errors is at the heart of any healthcare provider’s language access plan. Communication problems are the most frequent root cause of serious adverse events as reported to the Joint Commission. The smallest nuances of interpretation can cause misunderstandings that have disastrous treatment consequence and expose providers to financial liability. Language services facilitate clear communication between patients and medical professionals, leading to more accurate and complete patient encounters.

Patient compliance

Getting patients to comply with physicians’ orders is hard enough, but patients can’t follow instructions they can’t understand.LEP patients can miss critical information about treatment options, medication, self-care or follow-up appointments without the services of a qualified interpreter.

Discharge process time

Obviously, federal agencies must provide meaningful access, but unfortunately it’s not that simple. Federal funding touches all kinds of organizations in direct and indirect ways. As a result, the meaningful access standard applies to thousands of organizations across many sectors, including healthcare, education, communications, legal, real estate/housing, transportation, utilities and many others.

How does an organization get started?

The discharge has a direct impact on patient outcomes. Among other things, an effective discharge process ensures a patient:

  • Is ready to leave a facility’s care
  • Understands any required aftercare by the patient or another provider
  • Knows when to follow up and with whom

The discharge process gets snarled, lags behind and fails at its purpose when patients and healthcare staff face a language gap without language services assistance.

Readmission rate

Professional interpreter services significantly decrease 30-day readmission rates. While not all readmissions are unplanned or indicators of poor care, unnecessary readmissions are expensive and reducing them improves patient safety and quality of care.

Patient wait time

Healthcare providers know that efficiency and a positive patient experience start with patient check-in. Interpretation services coupled with the translation of privacy, permission to treat and other forms will ensure that patients are processed quickly to the provider, preserving patient flows and reducing wait time.

Appointments canceled/missed

LEP patients who are not provided with language-appropriate appointment scheduling and reminders are more likely to cancel appointments, miss them altogether or show up at the wrong place or time. Proper communication can prevent wasted provider time and lost revenue. Receiving treatment as scheduled also improves patient outcomes.

Patient satisfaction

When LEP patients can more actively engage in their healthcare through professional language services, their overall satisfaction increases. In one study of an emergency department , researchers found that non-English speakers were less satisfied with their care and less willing to return to the same facility.

Delinquent accounts and bad debt

Without properly translated responsible-party documents and account statements, limited-English-proficiency patients may not understand their financial obligation to a healthcare facility. Language-appropriate documentation and phone interpretation services can save time and money in collection efforts and reduce bad-debt write-offs.

How can VOLATIA help?

Volatia Language Network offers a wide range of interpretation and translation services to our healthcare clients. We will help you develop a language access plan that is flexible and compliant with federal and state requirements. Then together, we’ll identify the KPIs you can use to refine services and maximize resources.

Find out how our Interpreter Management System and extensive interpreter network can complement your language access plan and improve patient outcomes. Contact us today to schedule an assessment and learn about making VOLATIA your language partner.


'Meaningful access': What it means for your business

December 16, 2017 Compliance

'Meaningful access': What it means for your business

We talk a lot about "meaningful access" in the language services industry. After all, it’s one of the legal standards by which most of our clients are measured. Nearly every organization, agency or program that receives federal funding of any kind is required to provide limited-English-proficiency individuals with "meaningful access" to its services.

But what is "meaningful access," and what does it look like in the day-to-day operation of your business? Let’s start with some background.

'Meaningful access': What it means for your business

We talk a lot about "meaningful access" in the language services industry. After all, it's one of the legal standards by which most of our clients are measured. Nearly every organization, agency or program that receives federal funding of any kind is required to provide limited-English-proficiency individuals with "meaningful access" to its services.

But what is "meaningful access," and what does it look like in the day-to-day operation of your business? Let’s start with some background.

Why "meaningful access"?

Protection for LEP individuals was first provided by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 , which prohibits discrimination on the basis of national origin. This protection was underscored in 2000 when President George W. Bush signed Executive Order 13166, "Improving Access to Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency."The order states: "Each Federal agency shall also work to ensure that recipients of Federal financial assistance (recipients) provide meaningful access to their LEP applicants and beneficiaries."

Stated more plainly, recipients of federal funds must ensure that programs normally provided in English are accessible to LEP individuals. Failure to comply is a violation of the executive order and of Title VI.

What organizations must comply?

Obviously, federal agencies must provide meaningful access, but unfortunately it’s not that simple. Federal funding touches all kinds of organizations in direct and indirect ways. As a result, the meaningful access standard applies to thousands of organizations across many sectors, including healthcare, education, communications, legal, real estate/housing, transportation, utilities and many others.

How does an organization get started?

What meaningful access means and what it looks like in the day-to-day operations of a business will vary from organization to organization. To help businesses comply with EO 13166, the U.S. Department of Justice has created a four-factor analysis that provides a framework for self-assessment. The factors include:

  • Demographics: How many LEP individuals from a particular language group does your organization serve? The greater the number, the more likely language assistance services are required.
  • Frequency of contact: How often does your organization encounter LEP individuals?
  • Importance: How important are your services to the lives of LEP persons? Would denial of access have serious implications?
  • Resources: What resources (both financial and otherwise) are available to provide language services, and would doing so cause an undue burden?

For most businesses, providing meaningful access involves some mix of internal and external resources. A health system, for example, might employ a Spanish interpreter but partner with a language services provider such as VOLATIA to bridge other language gaps.

How can VOLATIA help?

When we first meet with a potential new client, we do a basic assessment of the existing language access plan, if there is one. Our examination revolves around three main areas:

  • What is the current state of compliance by the organization? (Or even more simply: What do you do when you encounter an LEP client or patient?)
  • What are the desired outcomes of the language access plan?
  • What is the current level of satisfaction with the program through the eyes of the service provider?

This no-cost analysis helps us start a conversation that ends in a much clearer picture of how language services can be woven into your company’s operations and culture to help you provide meaningful access to LEP individuals.

Every day, VOLATIA helps businesses develop language access plans that bring them into compliance with the meaningful access standard and create a model for 21st-century customer service.Contact us today to schedule an assessment and to learn more about making VOLATIA your language partner.


U.S. Department of Education awards $20 million in grants for ELL educator development

September 28, 2017 Compliance

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of English Language Acquisition announced earlier this month the awarding of $20 million in grantsto support and develop educators of English language learners (ELL). The grant was awarded under the National Professional Development Program.

Nearly 10% of public school students during the 2014-15 school year were learning to speak English according to statistics from the National Center for Education Statistics.The vast majority of those speak Spanish as a first language, followed by Arabic, Chinese and Vietnamese.

The National Professional Development program provides grants to institutions of higher education and public or private entities to implement activities that will improve instruction for ELL students. Activities may include preservice or in-service programs for educators, including teachers, administrators, paraprofessionals and others.

“Our English learner students represent an incredible asset for our country, yet they also face unique challenges. We need to keep shining the spotlight on them and building our capacity to better serve and teach them.” said OELA Assistant Deputy Secretary, José Viana, in a news release.

It is estimated that the grants will assist nearly 12,000 preservice and in-service educators.


Hispanic student enrollment more than doubles over 2 decades

September 14, 2017 Compliance

The population of Hispanic students enrolled at all levels of education has more than doubled since 1996, according to a recent analysis by the U.S. Census Bureau.

From 1996 to 2016, Hispanic student enrollment grew by 9 million, representing a 102 percent increase. As of 2016, Hispanic students represented nearly 23 percent of the total population of all people enrolled in school from pre-kindergarten through graduate school.

Overall, total student enrollment in 2016 was 77 million, which represents 9.9 percent growth since 1996.

Part of the increase in Hispanic student enrollment is a factor of population growth. According to the Census Bureau , “More than half of the growth in the total population of the United States between 2000 and 2010 was due to the increase in the Hispanic population.”

The other big factor in Hispanic student population growth is the decline in high school dropout rates. Dropouts among Hispanic students fell from 34.5 percent in 1996 to 9.9 percent in 2016. The national average is 6.4 percent.

Spanish was the home language of more than 77 percent of all English language learner (ELL) students during the 2014-15 school year,according to the National Center for Education Statistics These individuals are entitled to meaningful access to federally funded educational programs under Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and Executive Order 13166.

The growth in Hispanic enrollment just underscores the need for language access solutions in our schools. Volatia Language Network works with school systems and institutions of higher education to facilitate live communication among teachers, administrators, parents and students, and to translate critical documents into the languages of the student population.

Contact us todayto learn how we can help your institution provide meaningful access to educational services and be in compliance with federal law.


Hospital agrees to settlement in ADA language access case

August 28, 2017 Compliance

A Washington state hospital agreed earlier this month to a settlement to resolve alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to a news release from the Department of Justice.

Highline Hospital of Burien will pay a total of $45,000 to settle a case involving a deaf complainant who alleged that the hospital failed to provide him and his wife, who is also deaf, with American Sign Language interpreters following the man’s spinal surgery. In addition, the hospital is required to implement a plan to ensure full compliance with ADA requirements in the future.

"There is very little as important in the hospital than being able to communicate effectively with treatment providers," said U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. "The Americans with Disability Act ensures that at critical junctures in medical care those who need it – including those who are deaf or hard of hearing – have access to services such as ASL translators."

According to the settlement, the man was was a patient in January 2014 and had requested an ASL interpreter before his surgery. However, an interpreter was not provided at "critical junctures in his care," such as immediately following surgery and during discharge instructions.

The lack of interpreter also meant the man’s wife was unable to communicate effectively with medical staff about her husband’s condition, "including the extent of spinal damage that was discovered during surgery, the patient’s level of pain, information about post-operative care, and potential side effects from medication," the news release says.

Read the rest of the release.



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