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Kaiser Permanente Recognized by National Committee for Quality Assurance for Innovative Efforts to Reduce Health Care Disparities
Date:10/12/2009

ur patients who could not communicate with their health care providers," said Gayle Tang, director of national linguistic and cultural programs, Kaiser Permanente. "Our initiative is the first to establish a validated assessment tool as well as the systems foundation to facilitate language concordant services. Our research and development continues to inform the health care field, and is helping set industry standards nationally. It is incredibly rewarding to know that patients can receive care from providers that intimately understand their culture and language, and providers are encouraged to serve communities that are culturally and linguistically underserved."

In Southern California a diverse array of languages is spoken. To match patients with physicians who are fluent in their preferred language, the Southern California Permanente Medical Group organized a task force of bilingual physicians, regional leaders and administrative representatives to research the issue and create a Language Concordance Program. The program aimed to improve patient-physician language concordance and to foster a culture that values and encourages multilingual skills.

Through this program, medical centers can match members and patients with physicians who speak their language, including Arabic, Armenian, Cambodian (Khmer), Cantonese, Farsi, Korean, Mandarin, Russian, Spanish, Tagalong, and Vietnamese. The benefits of the program include improved patient satisfaction, quality, bonding rates and resource stewardship. The language concordance visit rate in primary care also increased dramatically, resulting in approximately 93,000 more linguistically-matched appointments in 2008.

According to the landmark 2002 Institute of Medicine study, "Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care," minorities in the U.S. tend to receive lower quality health care than whites, even when such factors as medical conditions, insurance and ec
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SOURCE Kaiser Permanente
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