Hablamos Juntos (Spanish for “We Speak Together”) is a unique project designed to forge connections between health care providers and the rapidly growing Latino health market. As a national program of The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Hablamos Juntos is investing $10 million in ten demonstration sites around the country. These sites, ranging from health plans and large hospital systems to small nonprofit community organizations working on behalf of patients and physicians, will work to improve communication between health care providers and Latino patients and eliminate language barriers that can lead to medical errors and compromise the quality of care.
Clear communication is essential to delivering high-quality health care. Health organizations that want to remain competitive – from a cost and quality perspective – must adapt to meet the needs of their increasingly diverse communities.
Meeting the demands of an evolving Latino health market—Latinos are the fastest-growing group in America—has its challenges. Health care systems will need to recruit a diverse, multi-lingual workforce and hire professional interpreters. Health care providers will be pressed to provide well-trained interpreters in locations that lack such training programs. It also means creating organizations that foster an environment committed to serving patients who speak little or no English and adopting creative solutions to augment professional interpreters and other language services available to Spanish-speaking patients.
Hablamos Juntos is addressing these challenges by helping health care providers develop affordable language programs. Hablamos Juntos has developed three important steps in our Program Requirements for improving communication with Latino patients. In brief, those steps include the following:
Increase the availability and quality of interpretation services for Latino patients who speak little English;
Provide useful health related materials in Spanish; and
Develop easy-to-understand ways for non-English speaking patients to find their way around health care facilities.
Sites will test model approaches, including using tools developed for Hablamos Juntos to assess existing language and interpreter services. Demonstration sites will also identify organizational policies that promote affordable language services and work to continuously enhance language capacity to better serve Latino patients. In addition, Hablamos Juntos will promote starting local programs to train professional interpreters. Health care organizations that adopt these approaches will benefit from:
- Improved quality of patient care and employee satisfaction;
- Reduced costs by decreasing unnecessary procedures;
- Improve patient safety and reduce risk of errors due to poor communications; and
- Increased patient confidence in their care and satisfaction with their providers.
By promoting practices that improve communication between Spanish-speaking patients and English-speaking Providers, Hablamos Juntos is helping Latinos receive the care they need and developing approaches that may be used with other language groups as well. For an overview of the program in PDF format that discusses the rationale for the initiative, please click here.
If you have further questions about the Hablamos Juntos Project, please direct them to firstname.lastname@example.org or call our office at 559.241.6509.
The National Program Office (NPO), established with support from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, manages the Hablamos Juntos program. The NPO staff provides technical assistance and guidance on interpreter training, signage and print materials and also monitor the project and facilitate interaction among grantees. The office will also seek to raise visibility and understanding about language barriers nationally through dissemination of material, development of a science base and production of a set of practice-oriented tools available to grantees and others. Major functions of the NPO include program leadership, grantmaking, technical assistance, monitoring, communications, and consultation.
The NPO of the Hablamos Juntos project is administered by the UCSF Fresno Center for Medical Education & Research, a major educational and clinical branch of the UCSF School of Medicine. UCSF Fresno represents a unique medical education and physician training program that is a model for community and university partnership. Since its inception 30 years ago, UCSF Fresno has graduated approximately 60 resident physicians annually in one of seven specialties, totaling more than 2,000 to date. UCSF Fresno faculty and medical residents also care for the overwhelming majority of the area’s underserved populations at partner hospitals and clinics.
The NPO staff will benefit from the experience and knowledge of two expert groups. The National Advisory Committee will assist in the review of the full proposals, participate in site visits, and assist in the monitoring of the ongoing projects. A Scholars Network will help staff and grantees understand what is known about the field of medical interpretation and to build on that knowledge.
Members of the NPO Staff include:
The Hablamos Juntos National Advisory Committee (NAC) consists of ten members who were selected for their expertise and leadership in the health care field. NAC members were crucial in the selection phase and throughout the grant-making process. They reviewed proposals, conducted site visits, and recommended ten applicants to be grantees. NAC members will continue to monitor and guide the ongoing projects so that program objectives are met.
The eleven National Advisory Committee members are:
- Ignatius Bau J.D.
- Jean Gilbert, Ph.D.
- Tawara D. Goode, M.A.
- Jeanne M. LaBrecque, M.P.N., M.H.A.
- Hugo Morales, J.D.
- Eva M. Moya, L.M.S.W.
- Alan R. Nelson, M.D., M.A.C.P.
- Guadalupe Pacheco, Jr., M.S.W.
- Elena V. Rios, M.D.
- Jaime H. Rivera, M.D., F.A.A.P.
- Susan C. Scrimshaw, Ph.D.
The Hablamos Juntos Scholars Network consists of ten members who were selected for their excellence in language and healthcare research. The Scholars are experts committed to advancing knowledge in the field of language barriers. They will be commissioned to write several academic discussion papers in order to help develop a science base for Hablamos Juntos.
The members of the Scholars Network are:
- Claudia Angelelli, PhD
- Joseph R. Betancourt, MD MPH.
- Alice Huan-mei Chen, MD MPH
- Sonia Colina, PhD
- Bruce T. Downing, PhD
- Glenn Flores, MD FAAP
- Peter Guarnaccia, MD
- Elizabeth Jacobs, MD AM Public Policy
- Sharon M. Lee, PhD
- Anna Nápoles-Springer, PhD
- Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable, MD
- Miguel D. Tirado, PhD
- Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola, MD PhD