Patricia Simino Boyce
Staff at 43 Facilities Complete Cultural Proficiency Training
Lake Success, NY – December 13, 2007 – Health care professionals across New York State have been learning how to provide culturally diverse care to an ever expanding and diverse population in order to improve health care outcomes for all patients. Professionals at 43 New York ambulatory care facilities and physician practices have completed the Practice Cultural Quality Leaders (PCQL) program, an intensive training course on cultural proficiency designed to assist health care professionals in delivering high-quality care to all patients, regardless of race or ethnic background. These provider groups have also conducted assessments to determine their compliance with cultural proficiency standards.
Cultural proficiency can be defined as an in-depth understanding of other cultures. In health care, this means understanding expectations and beliefs, socioeconomic issues, and potential barriers to treatment, including language barriers. These issues are thought to contribute to disparities in health care outcomes, as well as in access to care, among some minority groups.
Coordinated by IPRO, the Medicare Quality Improvement Organization (QIO) for New York State, the online course is offered by the Office of Minority Health of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (http://www.thinkculturalhealth.org) and is part of a national initiative sponsored by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The initiative has also been endorsed by the American Medical Association, the American College of Physicians and the American Academy of Family Physicians.
The training is designed to narrow disparities in care among underserved populations by increasing physician and staff awareness and improving skills in working with the various cultural and language needs of diverse population groups.
“As New York State’s population continues to diversify, physicians are increasingly seeing patients from cultural and linguistic backgrounds different from their own,” says Clare B. Bradley MD, MPH, Chief Medical Officer, IPRO. “It’s important that physicians and their staffs understand and respond with sensitivity to the needs and preferences of culturally and linguistically diverse patients.”
Language barriers may make it difficult for providers to make diagnoses, explain care options, offer health education, and convince patients to comply with a treatment regimen they may not understand. “Despite major advances in medical technology, communication remains the cornerstone of good medicine,” says Dr. Bradley. “Cultural proficiency is not an answer that will single-handedly eliminate health disparities, but it offers physicians and their staffs an important set of skills to help them deliver high-quality care to all patients.”
Dr. Terry Mahotiere, IPRO Medical Officer, and Director of the New York State PCQL initiative remarks, “The local ambulatory care facilities that have taken part in this initiative demonstrate that health care providers in New York State are concerned with ending disparities and are working to address the issues affecting underserved patients.”
For a list of health care professionals and practices that have completed this training, please see: https://ipro.org/pcql.
IPRO is an independent not-for-profit corporation and one of the largest health care quality improvement and evaluation entities in the United States. Visit ipro.org for more information.