Healthcare extenders are raising their hands and saying that they need help and resources to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse US population. That’s the key message of a new report released today by HealthEd Academy, the research arm of HealthEd.
According to the US Census, slightly more than half of all children born in the United States every year are minorities. Despite the growth in minority populations, however, the healthcare system has not been able to rise to the need. Some minority groups may have more health risk factors and a shorter life expectancy than the general population.
To find out how healthcare professionals are trying to close this gap by engaging patients from minority groups, HealthEd Academy conducted a detailed survey of 192 healthcare extenders—non-MD healthcare professionals who work directly with and on behalf of patients. The full report, Engaging Patients From Multicultural Backgrounds, is available at www.HealthEdAcademy.com.
The findings reveal that healthcare extenders are treating an increasingly diverse patient population whose members speak a wide variety of languages. As might expect be expected, the most common languages spoken are English, Chinese, and Spanish. However, 40% respondents selected “other” as 1 of the 4 most common languages spoken by their patients—this after respondents were presented with a list of the 10 most common languages spoken in the United States. Respondents listed dozens of additional languages, including African, Arabic, sign language, Southeast Asian languages, and Indian/Pakistani languages.
Despite the diversity in languages spoken by patients, there is a homogeny in the patient education materials available. Often, creating materials in Spanish, for example, is an afterthought at best. Yet Spanish is just the very beginning of patient needs. About half of those surveyed don’t have access to patient education materials in the languages they need.
Respondents are also concerned about gaps in how well patients and providers can understand each other. Almost half of respondents say that they often or sometimes experience situations in which language differences prevent effective communication between them and their patients or caregivers. Also, 44% of respondents are often or sometimes uncertain how to best educate a patient or family member because of cultural differences.
These findings point to an acute need to give healthcare extenders the support and resources that will let them more effectively treat patients from diverse cultural backgrounds. The needs they have expressed will only continue to grow. Now is the time to turn our attention to healthcare extenders and the role they can play in ensuring safe and accurate preventive and medical treatment for all.
To download a free excerpt of the report or learn more about purchasing the full report, visit www.HealthEdAcademy.com.