Language services evaluation and quality improvement at Cambridge Health Alliance

Client: Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA)
Topic Areas: Healthcare delivery systems; Immigrant health; Social determinants of health
Services: Participatory Evaluation, Training and Technical Assistance

At Cambridge Health Alliance, about 43% of primary care patients have limited English proficiency (LEP) and prefer to receive medical care in a language other than English. Since 2011, ICH has worked with CHA’s Multicultural Affairs and Patient Services (MAPS) Department to provide technical assistance and support a range of language services evaluation and quality improvement initiatives. ICH analyzes electronic health record data to understand communication practices being used across CHA’s clinical sites, identifies focus areas for improvement, and collaborates with MAPS to promote best practices for LEP patient communication. ICH also conducts surveys with providers and patients to assess satisfaction with interpreter services, and uses a queuing model to determine the optimal staffing for CHA’s interpreter call center. By collaborating with ICH, CHA has been able to make data-driven operational decisions about interpreter staffing, vendor selection, and language services policies. ICH’s support has also enabled CHA to increase utilization of professional interpreters and decrease utilization of risky communication practices that can compromise safety and quality of care for LEP patients.

Click here to view a short video about this work and here to read a journal article published in the Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety. You can also download a poster about this work below.

Related Resources

Poster presentation: Reducing-utilization-of-untrained-interpreters.pdf