Language access

Health organizations know that effective communication between patients and staff is essential for achieving positive health outcomes. Patients must be able to make appointments. Providers must be able to obtain medical history and discuss symptoms. Health educators must be able to explain the nature of disease and prevention. Patients and their families must be able to understand diagnosed medical conditions and recommended courses of treatment. Because effective communication is so important, the delivery of accessible and meaningful language services to English language learners (ELLs) is a key component to health equity.
In 2020, Columbia Pacific CCO continued working toward providing meaningful language access. This year, we focused on education and workforce.
  • Education: We provided our clinics with access to cultural responsiveness training, with a special focus on Cultural and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS). This training, which was implemented after Clinical Advisory Panel (CAP) advisement, fulfills continuing education requirements for all license types in Oregon. If you are interested in access to training for your organization, contact Maranda Varsik at varsikm@careoregon.org.
  • Workforce: As we assessed network capacity for certified and qualified interpretation, it became clear that we needed to build up the workforce. Columbia Pacific sponsored the 60-hour required training for four interpreters — which they completed at end of 2020 — and sponsored one interpreter to take certification test. Columbia Pacific will continue sponsoring individuals in the region to become certified and qualified. If you are interested in sponsorship, please contact Maranda Varsik at varsikm@careoregon.org.
In 2021, meaningful language access will become a CCO incentive measure. The measure will report the percentage of visits that have a certified or qualified interpreter for patient visits (bilingual providers and/or staff do not currently count toward this number). The measure will have a longer glide path because it is more difficult to assess. 2021 will offer a self-assessment year in which the CCO must complete a meaningful language access self-assessment, which is then scored. 2022 will bring a random chart review of 411 charts to see if interpretation was documented and offered by a certified and qualified interpreter. In 2023, clinics will report the percentage of visits with a certified or qualified interpreter as an official EMR measure. We anticipate much work to come, and we welcome your input.

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