Mercy Care believes that as our community continues to grow and become more ethnically diverse, the care that we provide is constantly evolving and becoming more complex. In our system of care, providers are encouraged to become more culturally competent, as well as to recognize the importance of health literacy. Addressing member’s concerns according to their literacy and culture, as well as providing language access services and culturally competent care are the priorities of Mercy Care's Cultural Competence Department. To achieve this, Mercy Care has developed a Cultural Competency Plan that addresses the diverse needs of our system, fosters internal and external collaboration, and ensures provision of high-quality language services at no cost to the member.
How you can help patients get optimal care
Over time, our health care system has become increasingly complex, and the care we provide is constantly evolving and becoming more complicated. Meanwhile, our community continues to grow more ethnically diverse. That’s why it’s incumbent on providers to make sure patients understand their care regimen.
There are two key things you can do to help ensure your patients get the best care possible and that they understand the care they’re receiving.
1. Become a more culturally competent provider
This means understanding different cultures, especially your patients’ cultures, and how they view and access health care services. Download A Quick Guide to Cultures and Spiritual Traditions by St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center.
Understanding health care disparities
Why culturally competent care matters
What is a culturally competent provider?
- Is aware of his or her biases
- Is knowledgeable about other cultures
- Is aware of health disparities
- Establishes common ground
- Builds trust
- Respects patients’ beliefs and values
- Maintains and conveys unconditional positive regard
- Uses interpreter services when needed
Increase your cultural competency
- Listen with sympathy and understanding to the patient's perception of the problem.
- Explain your perceptions of the problem.
- Acknowledge and discuss the differences and similarities.
- Recommend treatment.
- Negotiate treatment.
2. Recognize the importance of health literacy
Oftentimes, providers communicate at a level that exceeds a patient’s ability to comprehend. This can lead to errors, poor outcomes and even malpractice suits.
Health literacy refers to a person’s ability to obtain and understand basic health information and services and to follow instructions for treatment. It is estimated that more than one-third of American adults lack adequate health literacy.
Low health literacy rates are more common among the elderly, the poor, minorities and non-native English speakers. A more patient-friendly communication style — one that encourages questions — can help patients with limited health literacy better understand their diagnoses and therapies. Plus, it increases the chances of positive outcomes and lowers your risk of malpractice lawsuits.
Learn more about cultural competency or health literacy
- Download the manual for physicians, Health Literacy and Patient Safety
- Resource Guide on Cultural Competency
- Better Communication, Better Care - Provider Tools to Care for Diverse Populations
Why health literacy matters
How to help patients with limited health literacy