Kaiser Permanente Trains Nonprofit Health Care Providers to Provide Bilingual Services

Award-winning program aims to improve linguistic and cultural competency within health care
Aug 28, 2012 6:45 PM ET

(3BL Media) Oakland, CA - August 28, 2012 - To help reduce health care disparities and increase language access in health care, Kaiser Permanente recently convened with 14 nonprofit health care organizations and community providers from across the country in Atlanta for its award-winning Qualified Bilingual Staff training.

The five-day, 40-hour facilitator training, which was offered at no charge to participating organizations, provides bilingual employees specialized education to maximize their diverse linguistic skills with the goal of improving the overall patient care experience. Following the training, attendees return to their organizations armed with the tools and skills to implement the QBS Model in their organizations, with support from Kaiser Permanente.

Kaiser Permanente created the QBS Model in 2003 in response to demand for language services and a shortage of qualified and trained interpreters. Since its inception, the QBS Program has trained nearly 10,000 health care professionals across the country, representing 48 languages.

Kaiser Permanente employs a large contingent of bilingual staff to assist in delivering high-quality, equitable health care for its racially, ethnically and linguistically diverse members. Employees and physicians speak more than 130 languages. In 2006, the Kaiser Permanente QBS Model and Program was awarded the National Committee for Quality Assurance “Recognizing Innovation in Multicultural Health Care Award.”

“Kaiser Permanente has experienced a high degree of success from developing our bilingual staff through the QBS Model and Program. Sharing what we’ve learned externally demonstrates how health care organizations can work together to address health equity in a meaningful way,” said Gayle Tang, senior director of national linguistic and diversity infrastructure management at Kaiser Permanente. “Educating our external partners furthers the reach of this great work and our mission to better serve diverse linguistic populations and ensure health care equity for all.”

Success Story

Early adopter Adventist HealthCare, a faith-based, not-for-profit health care system based in Rockville, Md., saw the need for such a program as it, too, faced a shortage of health care interpreters to serve its increasingly diverse population. Since it adopted the QBS Model in 2007, the organization has seen many measurable successes, including a reduced wait time for an interpreter, which has been especially important in emergency cases, says Marcos Pesquera, executive director, Adventist HealthCare Center on Health Disparities.

Adventist HealthCare has been further disseminating the QBS model, training more than 400 employees in 12 of the mostly widely spoken languages in the region, including Spanish, Mandarin, Russian and Arabic.

The Road to Implementation

Since attending the recent training, Gabriela Flores, director of the office of equity and diversity at Children's Mercy Hospitals and Clinics in Kansas and Missouri, has begun laying the foundation to implement the QBS Model within her organization, including engaging human resources and mid-level managers to help emphasize the need for this initiative.

“The QBS Model will help us better serve our diverse patient population, specifically the 20 percent of our primary care clinic patients who only speak Spanish,” Flores said. “We’re looking forward to leveraging the language skills of our bilingual staff members to help meet that need.”

Flores says her team will continue working closely with Kaiser Permanente as they work toward their goal of fully implementing the QBS Program by Jan. 1, 2013.

Health care organizations that participated in the QBS facilitators’ training range from children’s hospitals to managed care organizations and comprehensive hospital systems, including:

For more information about Kaiser Permanente’s QBS Program and free tools and resources, visit www.kpqbs.org. Tools available for download include online trilingual reference manuals, which include annotated anatomical drawings and commonly used medical terminology in several languages, and provider’s handbooks on culturally competent care, developed by Kaiser Permanente’s National Diversity department.

About Kaiser Permanente
Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, our mission is to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve more than 9 million members in nine states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health. For more information, go to: www.kp.org/newscenter.


Contact: Laura Dunn, Kaiser Permanente, 510-414-9245