Did you know that August is National Immunizations Awareness Month?
With flu season right around the corner, now is the perfect time to start thinking about getting your flu shot. Additionally, with the more contagious COVID-19 Delta variant causing a resurgence in cases and hospitalizations, it is crucial for care systems to emphasize the importance of getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
Details about immunizations and vaccines can be complex and difficult to understand, but sometimes understanding can also be hindered by inaccurate information. Furthermore, a common obstacle that providers face when trying to increase their vaccination rates is being able to engage their unvaccinated limited English population (LEP) members and patients.
When LEP individuals seek information regarding vaccinating themselves and their children, the combination of the complex terminology and their doubt in the efficacy of vaccines can persuade members and patients to pass on getting a flu vaccine. This was the case in a study conducted by Healthcare Management Systems (HMS) corporation where they found that 52% of Spanish-speaking patients did not plan to get the flu shot. With this information, they concluded that using word-for-word translation in Spanish, the word “flu” is often translated inaccurately. Verbatim translation can leave out important information. Rather, organizations need culturally adapted translations to maximize the effectiveness of an outreach program.
Ensuring that providers and organizations incorporate in-language information helps to make vaccines more accessible to the LEP community.
Here are 7 ways organizations can provide an equitable vaccine and immunization experience this month and throughout flu season:
1. Ensure that your Online Platform Resources are In Language
Before a member or patient makes an appointment, they often go through the process of prospecting potential providers. This search is typically done online. Some organizations opt for verbatim translation systems, however, as stated above, this can bring about inaccuracy, leading to misunderstandings. The application of quality machine translation (MT) can make a world of difference in this stage.
2. Provide a Direct Line for Inbound Calls In Language
When organizations provide an experience with the first touch being in a patient’s native language, you’ll not only earn the trust from that one person but the overall community that they are a part of. A personalized phone number that connects directly to an interpreter, also known as Direct Connect, will build loyalty, keeping patients coming back to your organization.
3. Include Translation and Localization in the Appointment Setting Process
Regardless of age, many tend to prefer an online experience when scheduling appointments. Making appointments online truly began making headway last spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If your organization has had to implement access to virtual appointment scheduling, you can more effectively engage your LEP community during flu season by providing it in language.
4. Translate and Localization Your Patient’s Online Portal
It is crucial that your organization’s patient portal is also in your member’s native language to increase patient participation and ensure understanding when reviewing appointments and accessing their health records. Access to one place for patient education and after-visit summaries will increase health literacy and health outcomes.
5. Have Translated Consent Forms and After Visit Summaries Prepared
When patients are making their appointment for their vaccine or flu shot, it would be wise to implement a translation and localization workflow that is completely automated. This can ensure forms are ready and the appointment can start and end without issues.
6. Provide a Medically Qualified Interpreter During the Appointment
While bilingual staff might be the more cost-effective option, there are still language nuances that are often missed, continuing the cycle of poor health outcomes for LEP communities. Providing an interpreter, whether over-the-phone (OPI), through video (VRI), or on-site helps ensure communication efficacy – especially regarding reliability of the immunization/vaccine. To see which languages ULG’s interpretation services cover, view our language list.
7. Have One Interpreter for Continuous Outbound Follow-up Calls
When you need to make multiple calls for a specific language, keep your interpreter on the line for each call. Whether it’s conducting patient experience surveys or following up to confirm appointments, ULG’s Community Connect program makes calls more efficient and provides continued, compassionate communication even after you have administered the COVID-19 Vaccine and/or flu shot.
Translation and localization, in language services, and medically qualified interpreters are just some of the ways an organization can help provide an equitable vaccination experience to LEP communities. Use this time and beyond to reach out to your LEP community to help them protect themselves and others!
Need help making your immunization and vaccine outreach in language this season? Get in touch with ULG’s healthcare language experts today!