July 21, 2016: Ezra Mehlman

Providence invests in video interpreting company to improve patient care.

Health systems are finding new growth opportunities by experimenting with investment and innovation programs or accelerators.

For example, Providence Health & Services launched a venture capital fund to support innovative, consumer-driven technology in 2014. Providence Ventures invests in companies that specialize in online primary-care services, data analytics, care coordination and patient engagement, chronic disease management, clinician experience and wellness services.

“Consumers are now comparison shopping, reading reviews and purchasing health care online,” said Providence Venture’s Aaron Martin, managing partner and senior vice president of strategy and innovation, in a news release. “This trend will only accelerate as it has in every other industry. Consumers will demand more value, quality and convenience from the health care provider they choose.”

Language service needs

One of the major challenges facing Washington state-based Providence is the increase of limited English proficient and deaf patients seeking medical treatment throughout its health system, creating a need for expanded access to immediate language services.

According to a recent report by the U.S. Census Bureau, 60.6 million people nationwide — or 21 percent of those ages 5 or older— speak a language other than English at home, and more than 300 languages are spoken in the United States today. As a result, providers like Providence have faced an influx of patients requiring language assistance.

LEP patients are twice as likely to suffer adverse medical events as are English-speaking patients, and the average length of stay for LEP patients is 0.75 to 1.47 days longer than English-speaking patients when these individuals are not provided with a qualified interpreter. In addition, 30-day readmission rates are significantly higher for LEP patients. (See Mary Lindholm, M.D., et al., “The Effect of Professional Interpretation on Inpatient Length of Stay and Readmission Rates.”)