Hospitals and clinicians face a growing challenge as America becomes more multicultural and multilingual. One in six Americans speak a language other than English at home—not only Spanish, but languages from across Asia, Africa and Europe as well. How do hospitals and clinicians provide high-quality care to more than 20 million people who speak or understand little English, if any? This issue brief from the Speaking Together project, presents an overview of the program funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation whose aim is to identify, test and assess strategies for hospitals to provide effective language services to patients with limited English proficiency.

The program is leading 10 selected hospitals through a 16-month learning network to test new ideas, quantify results and share lessons learned. Program successes will be shared nationwide, providing models of effective language services that hospitals can adapt to meet the needs of linguistically diverse patients.