If your practice is located in an area with a thriving Hispanic community, it’s important to do what you can to communicate with those patients. With the Affordable Care Act (ACA), many additional people within the Hispanic community in the United States now have the opportunity to obtain health insurance. Previously, this group had the highest uninsured rate of any racial or ethnic group.
As more patients obtain health insurance, they will be seeking out doctors to address health issues they were previously unable to afford. Some of those patients may be able to speak and understand some English, but even then it is best to communicate in the language most comfortable to the patient. If you want people to be able to fully explain their symptoms and answer your questions, communicating with patients in their primary language will ensure that you get all of the information you need to be able to properly diagnose and treat the problem. Otherwise, important details may get lost in translation.
Facts About Healthcare in the Hispanic Community in the U.S.
In 2014, 25% of the Hispanic community in the United States was uninsured. Since the ACA was passed, 4.2 million Hispanic people have gained health insurance coverage, and 913,000 Hispanic adults aged 19-26 were allowed to continue coverage under their parents’ plans. This group accounted for almost a third of the increase in insured adults, and the largest increase of insured adults among all racial and ethnic groups.
This is a huge gain for the Hispanic community in the United States, as current statistics show that Hispanic people with health insurance were nearly 50% more likely to receive medical care, and almost twice as likely to seek preventative care. They were also twice as confident about being able to pay for the costs associated with medical care. The ACA also allows 8.8 million Hispanic people with private insurance to have access to free preventative care, including tests for blood pressure, cholesterol, Type 2 diabetes, and colorectal cancer. In particular, colorectal cancer screenings can be quite costly for the uninsured, so having access to affordable or free tests is a great win for this group and their health.
Communicating with Spanish-Speaking Patients
Now that many more Hispanic patients have access to affordable healthcare, many will be seeking out physicians to help with their healthcare needs. They may be researching online, just as many other patients are. These patients want to know that they will be able to communicate with you and your office staff.
Many healthcare practices in areas with thriving Hispanic communities, such as Florida, Texas, California, and Arizona, have at least one person in the office who is able to speak Spanish and translate for patients. If your practice is located in one of these areas and is unable to communicate with Hispanic patients, you could be missing out on the chance to connect with patients who really need your help.
Beyond in-office communication, your practice should also have Spanish content on your site. Many practices that work with Hispanic patients have at least one staff member who can communicate in Spanish, but often their website content is only available in English. This may steer away Spanish-speaking patients who are still in the research phase. These patients may question whether your practice can accommodate their needs.
If your practice frequently sees or primarily works with Hispanic patients, it might be worth the investment to have a full version of your website available in Spanish. However, practices located in areas with higher Hispanic populations should at the very least have a few key pages translated into Spanish.
Another note: If you are going to have your website content translated into Spanish, make sure you are working with someone who can translate the content as accurately and correctly as possible. Online translators may be helpful if you need to quickly translate a small amount of content to get the overall meaning, but they are often grammatically incorrect. Spanish-speaking patients will notice the grammatical errors, just as you would notice obvious errors in English content. The content needs to be translated well, or Hispanic patients may question your ability to communicate with them.
Beyond the actual content, you need to be able to grab the attention of Hispanic patients when they are looking for a physician. According to a study by Pew Research Center, Hispanic people are just as likely to own smartphones as other Americans, and they are more likely to use their smartphones to go online than other groups of patients. This is why having a mobile-friendly website is important if you want to reach out to this group of patients. This group is most likely to be viewing your website on a mobile device. If they aren’t able to easily find what they are looking for, they may move on to another practice.
It’s up to your practice whether or not you want to include Spanish content, but considering the amount of Hispanic patients who now have access to affordable healthcare, it may be worth the investment. You could be missing out on the chance to help many patients who need your care, but first you need to assure them that you will be able to communicate with them.