Temple University Health System in Philadelphia Improves Language Services for Spanish-Speaking Patients Through RWJF's Hablamos Juntos Program

Hablamos Juntos: Improving Patient-Provider Communication for Latinos

From 2002 to 2005, Temple University Health System in Philadelphia developed and promoted language services for Spanish-speaking patients in all of the system's hospitals and recruited, trained and credentialed six health care interpreters.

The health system was one of 10 demonstration sites in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's (RWJF) national program Hablamos Juntos: Improving Patient-Provider Communication for Latinos.

Key Results

  • Working with the health system's administration during the grant period, project staff:

    • Guided the development of formal policies for the use of interpreter services and translation.
    • Emphasized language services as fundamental to good patient care.
    • Recruited, trained and credentialed (with grant funds) four medical interpreters who provided services to some 8,000 patients. The health system hired two additional interpreters during that period with its own funds.
    • Increased use of language services. For example, provider use of contracted interpreters, accessed primarily via telephone, rose by 60 percent over the two-year implementation period.
    • Increased access to Spanish-language documents. Project staff contracted for Spanish versions of 200 essential patient documents and purchased additional material, all of which were made available on the health system's intranet.

All of the health system's providers adopted new language services policies by January 2006. After the grant, the health system committed its own resources to interpreter and translation services, allocating $900,000 in 2007.