Briefly, cross-cultural healthcare involves three critical issues:
- Racial and ethnic disparities in patient treatment, satisfaction and outcomes
- Language barriers in providing care to Limited English Proficient (LEP) patients and to Deaf and Hard of Hearing Patients
- Providing care to immigrants, refugees and other globally mobile populations
Learn more about each of these issues below.
Racial & Ethnic Disparities
In 2002, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) issued its report, “Unequal Treatment.” In it, the IOM concluded that People of Color receive lower-quality healthcare than whites, even when insurance status, income, age and severity of conditions are comparable.
A decade later, reports from the Agency on Healthcare Research & Quality suggest that racial and ethnic disparities are not improving and in most cases, are getting worse. Racial health disparities in infant mortality, chronic disease and many other metrics cost the U.S. health system more than $57 billion per year, according to a report from Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland. Of course, racial and ethnic minorities are not the only ones who experience disparities in patient care. Immigrants and refugees, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals and other groups experience disparities, as well.
Language Access for LEP & Deaf & Hard of Hearing Patients
Today, 60 million Americans (nearly one in five of us) speak a language other than English at home. Approximately 25 million of those Americans are Limited English Proficient, meaning that they speak English, by their own estimation, “less than very well.”
Language barriers create quality and safety problems for LEP and Deaf and Hard of Hearing Patients. Language barriers are associated with poor quality of care in emergency departments; inadequate communication of diagnosis, treatment and prescribed medication; and higher rates of medical errors. Providers who fail to offer qualified medical interpreters or translated medical documents may incur legal liability under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or the Americans with Disabilities Act. Many providers are not aware that violating these laws are civil rights violations that are not covered by medical malpractice insurance.
Providing Care to Immigrants, Refugees & Other Globally Mobile Populations
Over one billion people cross international borders every year. That number is expected to double in 10 years. As a result, medicine is no longer local. It is global. Today’s providers see conditions they have never seen before. They see conditions that look common but are, in actuality, diseases of foreign origin. And finally, today’s providers are seeing infectious diseases and parasitic diseases from around the world with which they have no familiarity whatsoever. These medical issues are not confined simply to immigrants and refugees. They apply equally to over 60 million Americans who travel internationally every year. Sadly, few providers are prepared to practice global medicine. Only 18 medical schools in the entire world teach this critical and emerging new subject.
What is Critical Measures Doing About These Issues?
- We developed CME accredited elearning courses on both the Law of Language Access and Caring for Globally Mobile Populations. Both courses are the first elearning programs in the U.S. to address these issues. Learn more.
- We provide organizational assessments to help identify and correct deficiencies in providing medical care to culturally and linguistically diverse populations. Learn more.
- We offer a unique online provider cultural and linguistic assessment that compares providers’ current clinical practices against national best practices for treating culturally and linguistically diverse patients. Learn more.