Getting the Data Right for Limited English Proficient Hispanic Patients

In his latest article, “Getting the Data Right for Latinos: Appropriate Language and Subgroup Data are Critical for Public Health and Social Justice” published in the Journal of Healthcare, Science and the Humanities, Dr. Glenn Flores stresses the need to improve health data systems to better reflect the Hispanic health experience to improve health and health services for nearly 60 million Spanish speaking Americans. Dr. Flores underscores that the data collection systems have been lacking for this group, resulting in misinformation and potentially harmful outcomes.

In my previous blog, I mentioned a number of research studies conducted by Dr. Flores and his focus on LEP patients. In his latest research, Dr. Flores examines:

  • LEP prevalence among U.S. Latinos
  • how language barriers impact health care,
  • LEP as the best measure for assessing language barriers,
  • language and LEP data in clinical settings and research
  • and the importance of collecting data on Latino subgroups.

Communication challenges can impact multiple aspects of healthcare, including access, health, service use, patient-clinician communication, satisfaction with care, quality and patient safety. Limited English proficiency is the best measure of the impact of language on healthcare, but most healthcare organizations do not collect any language or LEP data.

Standardizing the practice of collecting a preferred spoken language would greatly assist healthcare facilities in providing effective communication for LEP patients. It is becoming increasingly more important for healthcare organizations to record a patient’s preferred language for services in order to provide adequate and appropriate healthcare for LEP patients.

Latinos are the largest racial and ethnic minority group in America, and failure to collect Latino subgroup data can obscure disparities that affect some subgroups more than others, making their issues more difficult to address. Dr. Flores is calling on healthcare organizations to collect data for ALL patients to ensure optimal health care quality and outcomes, ethical care and equity for every patient regardless of race, culture or disability.

To view the full research article, visit: http://tuskegeebioethics.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/JHSH%20V6n2%20Fall2016-comp.pdf.

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