Bridging The Communication Gap

Professional Translation Services For The Healthcare Industry

There is no other country quite as diverse as the United States. Not only is it home to more immigrants than any other country on the planet, but within the US immigrant population, nearly every country in the world is represented.1 And when it comes to language, 67 million residents speak a language other than English (LOTE) at home.2 

According to the Pew Research Center, although the portion of the immigrant population who speaks English very well has increased from 27% to 36% (from 1980 to 2017), the share of those who speak English at home has decreased by nearly 47% during the same time period. With such linguistic and cultural diversity, how does the federal government ensure that its limited-English proficient (LEP) population receives effective communication, especially when it comes to their healthcare and health coverage needs?

Section 1557

Recent studies have shown that by investing in quality language-access services, healthcare facilities stand to save money and improve patient outcomes.3 The federal government has also implemented several regulations to further encourage healthcare facilities and health insurance companies to invest in language-access services. One regulation in particular is Section 1557, the nondiscrimination provision of the Affordable Care Act.

Under this section, any healthcare facility, health insurance company, or community-based organization that receives Medicare, Medicaid, or “other” reimbursement from federal health programs must post taglines and notices of nondiscrimination that inform LEP patients of the availability of language-assistance services. These entities must further “take reasonable steps to provide meaningful access to each individual with LEP.”4 

Taglines and Notices of Nondiscrimination

Under the current law, written taglines must be translated into no less than the top 15 languages spoken by the LEP population of each respective state. These taglines (which are sent to patients, health insurance enrollees, beneficiaries, and/or members of the public), explain the nondiscrimination policies and notify recipients of the availability of free language-assistance services. 

Vital Documents

In order to remain legally compliant, healthcare facilities must also ensure that their LEP patients have access to “vital” documents in the language of their choice. When considering whether or not to classify a document as “vital”, these facilities must determine the seriousness of consequences to LEP patients should the information not be provided in their language.

For healthcare facilities, some of these documents may include consent forms, complaint forms, intake forms, letters outlining a patient’s rights, documents that must be provided by law, as well as discharge and post-surgery instructions. For health insurance companies, these documents may include applications, letters regarding insurance eligibility or benefits, as well as documents outlining the reduction, delay, limitation, denial, or termination of insurance benefits. 

Summary of Benefits Coverage and the Uniform Glossary

Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), both insurers and employers are responsible for creating and distributing a Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC) for full-insured plans, but for self-insured plans, only the employer is responsible for the SBC creation and distribution. SBCs disclose both benefit and coverage information such as what procedures are covered, information on cost-sharing provisions and exclusions, examples of coverage, as well as websites and telephone numbers for customer service. All SBCs written in the English language must also include information on the availability of written language services in the required languages. Further, should specific thresholds be met, a “group health plan or health insurance issuer must provide the SBC in a culturally and linguistically appropriate manner.”5

All health insurers are additionally responsible for providing a “Uniform Glossary” which helps to explain complicated or confusing terms associated with the health insurance provided. Should the insurance plan cover LEP individuals, the Uniform Glossary may need to be translated into the appropriate languages. 

Healthcare Translation Projects are in High Demand

The need to meet these federal and state language-access regulations has skyrocketed in recent years. Translating healthcare-related documents not only requires full medical regulatory compliance, but also quality control management. With an increased demand for technical precision, linguistic accuracy, and subject matter expertise, language service providers (LSPs) that take on healthcare translation projects must come to the table well equipped.

Healthcare translation is a highly specialized field and plays a particularly critical role in the US healthcare industry. Accurate and timely translations have been proven to help strengthen communication between healthcare professionals and LEP individuals, which in turn, helps to improve workflow and decrease errors. With such high demands, LSPs must be able to confidently handle large-scale and rush translation projects, offering not only a pool of seasoned and experienced linguists but additional professionals as well, who are fully acquainted with the unique needs of the industry within the United States.

LSPs that offer healthcare-related translation services should also be able to expertly translate all healthcare-related, patient-facing documents, from the Evidence of Coverage (EOC) and the Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) documents, to explanations of benefits, types of coverage, instructions on filing a claim, and discharge and post-surgery instructions. But some LSPs go even further, offering not only translations from native speakers of the target language, but also desktop publishing (DTP), subject matter expert advice, and a range of services that go from mainstream translation, editing, and proofreading (TEP) to bilingual or monolingual review, and post-editing of machine translated texts. And when same-day turnaround time (TAT) is also added to the mix, these LSPs help healthcare organizations and health insurance companies save both time and money.

Strategic Partners in the Healthcare Field 

With over 15 years of professional translation experience coupled with successful, long-lasting partnerships with clients throughout the United States and a staff well-versed in US government regulations, delsurtranslations ensures your healthcare documents are federally compliant and strictly adhere to all Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) regulations.

With no rush overcharge and a customized approach to each client’s needs, including the implementation of preferred CAT tools, delsurtranslations is your one-stop shop for all of your healthcare-related translation projects. When it comes to the sensitive nature and intricate terminology within the healthcare field, place your trust in your strategic partners delsurtranslations.

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REFERENCES

1  “Key Findings about U.S. Immigrants.” Pew Research Center, https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/06/17/key-findings-about-u-s-immigrants/.

2 “Almost Half Speak a Foreign Language in America’s Largest Cities.” CIS.org, https://cis.org/Report/Almost-Half-Speak-Foreign-Language-Americas-Largest-Cities.

3  Psqh. “Language Access: Meeting Patient Needs While Increasing Compliance and Improving Outcomes.” Patient Safety & Quality Healthcare, 20 May 2019, https://www.psqh.com/analysis/language-access-meeting-patient-needs-while-increasing-compliance-and-improving-outcomes/.

4  HHS Office of the Secretary,Office for Civil Rights, and Ocr. “Section 1557: Frequently Asked Questions.” HHS.gov, US Department of Health and Human Services, 18 May 2017, https://www.hhs.gov/civil-rights/for-individuals/section-1557/1557faqs/index.html.

5  “Summary of Benefits and Coverage and Uniform Glossary.” Federal Register, 30 Dec. 2014, https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2014/12/30/2014-30243/summary-of-benefits-and-coverage-and-uniform-glossary.