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Communication, Healthcare Experience Matters

The Patient Experience in a Multilingual Setting

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This week on the Healthcare Experience Matters Podcast we have Ninfa Segarra, JD, and Maureen Eisner, join us to discuss the patient experience in a multilingual setting. Examining the logistical challenges and importance of striving for excellent patient outcomes in a multilingual environment is at the heart of today’s podcast. 

With SBH Health System, Ninfa is Senior Vice President, Communications & External Affairs, Community & Government Affairs, and Chief Diversity Officer. Maureen is the Vice President of Patient Experience and Bioethics with SBH Health System. 

SBH Health System is a major safety net hospital in The Bronx in New York City. As we learn on today’s podcast, SBH serves a needy and wonderful community in the largest, most diverse city in America. 

“Language barriers are associated with unequal access to healthcare and less than optimum patient outcomes,” Maureen said. 

Clear communication has a major impact on the patient experience, and the art of communicating effectively with patients is always a topic of interest on this podcast. As discussed on today’s show, even when a patient speaks English, they may need an interpreter due to the complex nature of many medical conditions and treatment options.  

“Most patient complaints and serious health events are actually based on some sort of poor miscommunication, patients really need clear communication to make decisions about their health and treatment,” Maureen told us.

There are also many legal requirements at stake in a multilingual environment.

“Providing services in the patient’s preferred language, or language of choice, is a legal requirement,” Ninfa said. 

From a patient rights perspective, Maureen reminds us that there should never be a charge associated with a translator as it is a patient right. 

“Most hospitals have language assistance coordinators, and patient representative and advocates that are there to protect patient’s rights,” she added. 

As we learn from Ninfa, meeting these communication needs often starts with strong leadership. It remains very important that staff have a clear understanding of a patient’s preferred language.   

Making sure the language needs of the patient are met should start when they are admitted to the hospital, according to Maureen.  

Listen Now

You can listen to today’s episode:

Time Stamps

Looking for the timestamps of how this podcast breaks down?  Use the below timestamps to jump to any section:

  • Ninfa describes The Bronx and the size, scope, and multicultural reach of the hospital and surrounding community (1:23)
  • Ninfa and Maureen discuss clear communication’s overall impact on the patient experience (4:34)
  • What can be done to raise awareness among hospital personnel to support diverse communication needs? (8:10)
  • What are the most common languages needs? Does the frequency of specific languages change in usage? (10:44)
  • What are the advantages of having multilingual medical environments for patients and staff? (17:30)
  • How have COVID restrictions affected the ability to meet diverse language needs? (23:10)
  • Final thoughts on today’s episode (25:30)
  • More HXF Podcasts

    Healthcare Experience Matters covers topics like combatting physician burnout, mindfulness, empathy, compassion fatigue and much more. Catch up on all episodes of our podcast by subscribing and following us for free on all major podcast platforms, this includes Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Amazon Music and more. 

    We publish a new podcast every Thursday morning so please stay tuned for more shows!

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