Diversity Executive - May/June 2011 - (Page 44)
The Language of Diversity
Kaiser Permanente’s Qualified Bilingual Staff model ensures effective communication and patient-centered care that is responsive to its multilingual, multicultural patients.
By Gayle Tang, Oscar Lanza and Fátima M. Rodríguez
Kaiser Permanente is one of the largest nonprofit integrated health care delivery systems in the country. It was founded in 1945 and now serves more than 8.7 million members in California, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Ohio, Oregon, Virginia, Washington state and Washington, D.C. Since its inception, Kaiser has had a long-standing tradition and commitment to diversity. It was one of the first U.S. organizations to hire women in jobs historically performed by men and to ensure equal opportunities for people of color. Kaiser continues to lead in this practice, employing a large contingent of bilingual staff to assist in the delivery of highquality, equitable care for its racially, ethnically and linguistically diverse members, who speak more than 130 languages and represent countries from around the world. Innovation and Transformation Numerous challenges transformed the way Kaiser delivers care to diverse populations. In the late 1990s, an increasing demand for services in non-English languages, a dynamic federal and state policy environment, and a lack of formal and consistent mechanisms to ensure effective communication signaled a need for immediate attention and action. In addition, limited English proficient populations continued to grow, as the U.S. Census reported in 2000 and 2010. In its quest to deliver quality, affordable health care for its diverse membership, Kaiser turned to its own workforce for practical solutions. In the early 2000s, Kaiser Permanente National Diversity developed the Qualified Bilingual Staff (QBS) model and proposed a labor and management partnership to fully embrace and implement this workforce development strategy. Participation of key stakeholders was pivotal to a successful rollout and to maintain support going forward. Kaiser’s QBS model capitalizes on existing workforce diversity and ensures that qualified linguistic services and culturally competent care are delivered in a cost-effective and operationally efficient manner. It is founded on a systemic approach, where the desired strategy is to train bilingual staff who can serve the organization’s members at all points of contact, including hospitals, pharmacies, call centers and medical offices. The QBS model provides bilingual employ44 Diversity Executive | www.diversity-executive.com | May/June 2011
ees with specialized education and training to maximize utilization of their diverse linguistic skills. The benefits include: • Expressed recognition from organizational leadership about the value of employee diversity. • Improved communication, quality of care and cost savings by leveraging an internal workforce. • Enhanced organizational capacity due to embedded systems and processes to provide culturally competent care. • Increased sense of trust and improved member satisfaction based on surveys and focus group research. • Positive image for Kaiser Permanente in diverse communities and in the health care industry. “One of the key differentiators of Kaiser Permanente in the marketplace is our commitment to total health for the total population,” said John August, executive director of the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions. “To achieve our mission, we strive to develop resources — within Kaiser Permanente and in the community — to the fullest extent possible. We recognize the importance of creating a work environment that values the cultural and linguistic skills of our employees. The QBS model is an exemplary workforce development program that acknowledges such skill sets and leverages our workforce to deliver culturally and linguistically competent care.” Building Blocks for Success The QBS model has policies and procedures in place to ensure continuous quality improvement and patient safety and to govern the standards for ongoing evaluation and training. Including: • dentifyworkforcecapacity. The model recognizes difI ferent levels of expertise — levels 1 and 2 for bilingual staff and level 3 for the designated interpreter — and identifies appropriate interventions to enhance employee skills. The higher the level, the more proficient individuals are in interpreting, linguistic skills and more extensive scopes of practice. Initial training for level 1 is 8 hours; level 2 is 24 hours; and level 3 is a combination of 40 hours training and attending an ongoing series of coaching modules.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Diversity Executive - May/June 2011
Diversity Executive - May/June 2011
Feeling Boxed In?
Wounded Warriors Lift Corporate America
Working in a Global Village
What Comes First: Merit or Diversity?
Diversity Executive - May/June 2011