Breaking communication barriers in home-based care

Breaking communication barriers in home-based care

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Effective communication is crucial among home-based care providers, their patients, and family caregivers within healthcare. One crucial aspect of communication often overlooked is the language barrier.

The inability to communicate effectively due to different languages can lead to decreased satisfaction for both patients and medical providers. According to a report from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), 8% of Medicare’s 52 million beneficiaries have limited English proficiency (LEP).

A growing body of research suggests language barriers in healthcare settings may compromise the quality of care for LEP patients by impairing their comprehension, decreasing adherence rates, and diminishing satisfaction, among others.

One study of 1,200 respondents that included 11 non-English languages, found that:

  • 49% had trouble understanding a medical situation
  • 7% were confused about medication usage
  • 8% had trouble understanding a label on medication
  • 8% experienced adverse effects from medication because of difficulty understanding directions

Recognizing and accommodating these linguistic preferences offer benefits for both patients and healthcare providers. To gain a better understanding, we’ll explore the following:

  • Improved understanding and comprehension
  • Enhanced trust and comfort
  • Increased patient engagement and participation
  • Cultural sensitivity and competence
  • Improved patient safety
  • Overcoming language barriers with technology

Improved understanding and comprehension

Communicating with healthcare providers in a native or preferred language significantly enhances patients’ understanding and comprehension of medical conditions, treatment plans, and care instructions. By offering digital, on-demand resources in the language they are most comfortable with, miscommunication is reduced, and patients gain confidence in accessing crucial information about medication management, care plans, and other resources, at any time—day or night.

One patient in a study of nearly 300 participants stated, “With health, it’s frustrating because we are not sure of understanding instructions, and therefore we are not satisfied”.

Patients with LEP often face delays in receiving treatment or therapy, as they need to repeat their concerns, search for the correct terms, or ask providers to repeat questions. However, by using the right technology, providers can communicate more effectively and gather the necessary information to initiate care promptly.

elderly woman video chats on tablet in spanish

Enhanced trust and comfort

Language plays a crucial role in building trust and establishing rapport between patients, caregivers, and healthcare providers. Utilizing technology, such as automatic translation tools, enables staff to communicate effectively in a patient’s native or preferred language.

Technological support helps convey empathy, understanding, and respect for patients’ cultural backgrounds, significantly enhancing communication. It also fosters a greater sense of comfort and trust, which encourages patients to express their concerns openly and adhere to treatment plans more effectively. Such advancements in digital communication are pivotal in bridging the gap and ensuring that healthcare is inclusive and patient-centered.

Increased patient engagement and participation

Effective communication is essential for empowering patients to actively participate in their healthcare journey. When patients can comfortably communicate in their language of choice, they become more engaged, frequently asking questions, seeking clarifications, and actively participating in shared decision-making with their healthcare providers.

This enhanced level of engagement not only improves health outcomes but also significantly boosts patient satisfaction. It fosters a collaborative environment where patients feel valued and understood, contributing positively to their overall healthcare experience. Ensuring that communication barriers are minimized is key to facilitating this deeper, more meaningful interaction between patients and healthcare professionals.

Cultural sensitivity and competence

Language is deeply intertwined with culture, serving as a vital element of individual identity. By accommodating patients’ language preferences, providers demonstrate cultural sensitivity and competence, embracing an inclusive approach that acknowledges the rich diversity of patients’ backgrounds and experiences.

Promoting an environment that deeply respects and values cultural differences can enhance care experiences. Such cultural competence is crucial for building trust and understanding, fostering a more supportive and responsive healthcare setting. By prioritizing this approach, providers not only meet the linguistic needs of patients but also affirm their commitment to equitable care.

Improved patient safety

One research study of six Joint Commission accredited hospitals found that language barriers appear to increase the risks to patient safety.


Language barriers leading to miscommunication can result in severe repercussions in home-based healthcare, causing grave misunderstandings, wrong diagnoses, medication mistakes, and eventually, jeopardizing patient safety. Effective communication in a patient’s native or preferred language significantly reduces the risk of these errors, ensuring that crucial information is accurately conveyed and understood.

This approach not only enhances safety but also boosts the quality of care, as patients feel more comfortable and confident in their interactions with healthcare providers. By prioritizing communication in the patient’s preferred language, healthcare providers can effectively mitigate risks and provide safer, more accurate, and personalized care, thereby improving overall patient outcomes.

Overcoming language barriers with technology

Effective communication is fundamental to delivering high-quality healthcare. Prioritizing language access is essential for providing patient-centered care that effectively meets the diverse needs of individuals and communities. Ensuring this aspect of care is available helps bridge communication gaps, fostering a healthcare environment that is inclusive and responsive to all patients.

CitusHealth’s technology offers innovative solutions to enhance communication across language barriers, significantly improving interactions between patients and healthcare providers. By integrating these solutions can help ensure each patient receives the best possible care, no matter their preferred language. Discover the benefits of CitusHealth’s technology in helping your organization enhance patient communication by scheduling a demo today.

Terri Embry
Terri Embry
RN, BSBA, Vice President of Customer Success, CitusHealth

A registered nurse with a bachelor’s degree in business and marketing, Terri’s career has spanned almost three decades in regional and national home, specialty and long-term care infusion operations, sales, and informatics leadership. Her experience with cutting-edge workflow optimization has allowed her to understand the challenges both customers and their patients face. With CitusHealth, she leads the adoption and retention team helping to bring the voice of customers to the product development roadmap.

Terri has been in leadership, sales, and nursing roles for companies such as BioScrip, Omnicare, and Olsten-Kimberly Quality Care.