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Healthcare translation services

Your hospital has a language services program in place – you have a few on-site bilingual staff who are qualified to interpret, and you have phone and video interpretation provided by qualified interpreters at the touch of a button. But has your organization thought about translating common forms and informational documents?

You might be surprised how important providing translated materials can be. Here are the top four reasons why your hospital should start utilizing translation services:

1. The Law Dictates It

Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act prohibits discrimination in healthcare or health coverage on the basis of race, color, or national origin (including immigration status and English language proficiency). Introduced in Title VI but reinforced by Section 1557, this applies to, “every health program or activity, any part of which receives Federal financial assistance.”

Like Title VI before it, Section 1557 forces hospitals to ensure they are in compliance with the law for providing language access services.

2. It Could Save You Money In the Long Run

Translation is usually a one-time fee for unlimited access to a document. Unlike paying for each spoken interpretation session, once an often-used document is translated, the provider does not have to pay for each use.

The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) estimates that avoidable readmissions cost Medicare $17 billion a year because patients do not:

- Understand their diagnosis

- Know which medications to take and when

- Receive important information or test results

- Schedule a follow-up appointment with their doctor

- Get adequate care at home

Translation can mitigate many of these factors.

3. Fewer Misunderstandings Lead to Fewer Risks

According to a Health and Human Services study, 73% of Medicare providers reported benefits for providing language access services, including translation. The four most frequently reported benefits were: improved communication, improved adherence to treatment regimen, improved diagnosis and treatment, and fewer complaints. Improving diagnosis and improved adherence to treatment help hospitals lower patient readmissions rates.

4. If Patients are Happy, Your HCAHPS May Also Be Happy

Providing translation may improve a hospital’s HCAHPS Star Rating. If patients know they can communicate in their preferred language—including reading and filling out documents in that language—they may be more satisfied with their overall encounter. HCAHPS surveys ask patients several questions surrounding clear communication.

Want to learn more?

Download our white paper to learn more about why you need translation and how to determine what needs translating:

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Regina Wetzel

Regina Wetzel

An experienced researcher, writer, and editor on language services-related topics, specializing in how language works and translation services.