The Sounds of Quality

As America becomes more multicultural and multilingual, hospitals and clinicians face a growing challenge of how to provide high-quality care to more than 20 million people who speak or understand little, if any, English. Research has consistently shown that people with limited-English proficiency (LEP) have greater difficulty obtaining health care, receive less primary care, obtain fewer preventive services, and are generally less satisfied with their care. Literature reviews have shown that LEP patients experience adverse events with some degree of physical harm or suffered permanent or severe harm or death at significantly higher rates compared to English-speaking patients.

That is why the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) made bridging the language-gap in hospitals an integral part of Aligning Forces for Quality (AF4Q), its signature program to lift the overall quality of health care in targeted communities, as well as reduce racial and ethnic disparities and provide real models for reform.

This issue brief presents the findings of nine hospitals who participated in AF4Q's Language Quality Improvement Collaborative to develop new strategies, quantify results and share lessons learned.