The Department of Health and Human Services mandates that any entities receiving federal funding """"""""must offer and provide language assistance services, including bilingual staff and interpreter services, at no cost to each patient/customer with limited English proficiency at all points of contact, in a timely manner during all hours of operation"""""""" (DHHS 2002;emphasis added). The lack of adequate language assistance, however, remains alarmingly entrenched in healthcare settings. Over the past four years the NIH has awarded our team five (5) Phase II SBIR grants to develop a suite of cutting-edge communication tools. While each of these tools has proven to be highly efficacious in our research studies, their pathway to commercial success faces two critical hurdles: the lack of a centralized infrastructure for clients to access the tools and measure their impact on patient quality of care and other performance metrics;and the all-important credibility that propels widespread adoption of new and innovative solutions. This RC3 project will address both challenges. During the course of this project, we will build the web-based infrastructure to allow healthcare institutions to gain access to our portfolio of language-assistance technologies, including, among others, a system for delivering multilingual voice messages via the telephone, and an eLearning system designed to improve health professionals'skills in medical Spanish and other target languages. We will then investigate the factors that promote the adoption of these tools by healthcare administrators, direct-care clinicians, and patients, in the form of a pilot launch that will be conducted at several participating hospitals. Finally, we will create a compelling set of materials including case studies, client testimonials, press releases and peer-reviewed publications that will promote the System to both academic and industry audiences and ready it for full-scale commercial launch. The benefits of an integrated gateway of communication resources are far-reaching;we will enable healthcare professionals to provide language-concordant care, impacting performance metrics, such as patient satisfaction and quality of care, and bringing the DHHS vision of universal language access at all points of contact during all hours of operation into reality.
Few resources are available to help the 24 million Americans with limited English proficiency (LEP) gain equitable access to healthcare services commonly available to the general population. Healthcare institutions rely on interpretation services to meet the needs of LEP individuals, but such services are limited to face-to-face encounters and constrained by the shortage of trained medical interpreters. The LanguageMate System brings together a set of highly innovative language tools designed to substantially improve access to healthcare for LEP patients.