Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA) is a safety-net healthcare system serving an ethnically and linguistically diverse patient population in Boston’s metro-north region. 43% of CHA’s primary care patients have limited English proficiency (LEP) and prefer to receive care in a language other than English. CHA developed and implemented the Language Services Documentation Tool (LSDT), which is embedded into the Epic electronic health record and enables standardized documentation of how language needs are met during ambulatory encounters with patients who have limited English proficiency (LEP).
ICH provided TA to help CHA design the LSDT, including providing guidance on the tool question prompt wording and response options. ICH supported the pilot testing and refinement of the tool and provided input on how the tool was integrated into Epic. ICH has also provided guidance on updates to the tool after the initial implementation, including a recent redesign that improved the tool layout, refined some of the wording, and added new functionality. In addition, ICH provides ongoing TA to analyze and create reports of the data collected through the tool. This includes monitoring of trends in how LEP patients’ language needs are met at the individual site level at CHA, creation of quality improvement metric dashboards, and data drilldowns for sites that are not meeting targets.
Supported by ICH’s TA, CHA now has comprehensive, standardized data on how LEP patients’ language needs are met during all ambulatory encounters. The implementation of the LSDT, combined with ICH’s analysis and reporting TA, has enabled CHA to reduce high-risk communication practices, increase use of professional medical interpreters, and better meet language access regulatory requirements.
ICH and CHA wrote an article about the LSDT that was published in The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety – you can find it here.