The U.S. is more of a melting pot than ever, with about 350 languages currently being spoken, according to the latest census statistics. That means more people may be coming into your practice who may have difficulty communicating with you.
What can you do to help patients with limited English proficiency? You can receive free language assistance for Delta Dental members through our Language Assistance Program (LAP). LAP gives you access to interpretation and translation assistance that meets state and federal requirements for language assistance services.
You can get interpretive services in 170 different languages through LAP. This service is available to Delta Dental members at no charge and allows you to talk to patients through an interpreter so you can understand their needs clearly and give them the best care possible. For phone interpretation, just call 866-530-9675 to get an interpreter the next time you need one.
If you prefer to talk with a patient face to face, an interpreter can also meet you in your office and translate any conversations you have. Live interpretation services require 72 hours’ notice.
Members can access information about our plans and benefits in different languages, too. The Delta Dental website is available in Spanish, and members can learn about the different plans and benefits as well as read articles on dental health and wellness.
Plan materials can be translated into other languages and made into accessible formats such as Braille and audio files upon request.
If you or someone in your practice speaks another language, it’s worth advertising this fact. Make sure your dentist directory listing includes the languages spoken at your practice. This can help patients who speak your language find you easily.
You can do even more to welcome patients who don’t speak English. Create a protocol for your staff to follow when talking to patients with limited English proficiency, and make a conscious effort to be aware of and respect cultural differences.
If you have a large number of patients who speak a specific language, make sure your policies, brochures and forms are available in that language.
Patients with limited English proficiency may feel uncomfortable at first, but if you create a warm, welcoming environment and help them overcome the language barriers, you’ll serve them better and grow your practice at the same time.