Case Studies

Improving Cultural and Linguistic Competency of Health Care Providers and Staff

Adventist HealthCare
Rockville, Maryland
1,045 Beds

The Problem
Adventist HealthCare created the Center on Health Disparities to reduce and eliminate disparities in health status and health care access, treatment, quality and outcomes throughout the communities served by its system. The center is organized into three focus areas: cultural competence education and training, health disparities research and health care services partnerships. To ensure the provision of culturally competent, patient-centered health care, the center provides education and training on cultural awareness and cross-cultural communication to health care providers and staff within the Adventist system and at partner organizations. An advisory board composed of representatives from health care, academia, local governments, and community-based organizations provides guidance to the center on its activities.

The Solution
The Center on Health Disparities emphasizes organizational and health professional cultural and linguistic competency. The center’s staff conducts organizational cultural competence assessments to determine how well hospitals are meeting the needs of their patients and creates strategic plans for leadership to improve health equity. At presentations at in-services and through web-based trainings, physicians and other health care providers and staff learn about culturally appropriate and effective communication techniques to care for diverse populations. In addition, to ensure that patients receive linguistically appropriate services, the center offers programs such as the Qualified Bilingual Staff Training Program. The purpose of this three-day program is to assess language proficiency and train bilingual staff to provide proper foreign language interpretation for patients who speak little or no English. Health care providers and staff learn proper medical interpreting skills to facilitate effective communication during cross-cultural encounters and improve the organization’s ability to provide culturally and linguistically appropriate care and services.

The Result
With an increased focus on cultural and linguistic competency, the Center on Health Disparities has helped patients better navigate the health care system and improved the care they receive. For example, patients are now more thoroughly screened at registration, and offered language assistance from a hospital-provided language interpreter or a qualified bilingual staff member when needed.

Since 2007, the center has held 19 qualified bilingual staff training sessions and trained more than 400 providers and staff to provide language access services to non-English speaking patients. The center also has developed and disseminated annual reports at local conferences to bring community stakeholders together and share best practices and community interventions to improve cultural competency and enhance patient experience.

Contact Information
Marcos Pesquera

This case study was originally featured in the HPOE guide: "Eliminating Health Disparities: Implementing the National Call to Action Using Lessons Learned," published February, 2012.

Additional Resources

Webinars December 13th, 2017

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Webinars November 20th, 2017

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Webinars November 17th, 2017

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