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How Translation Improves Health Literacy and Reduces Health Care Costs
March 16, 2016 - By: - In: Interpretation, Translation - Comments Off on How Translation Improves Health Literacy and Reduces Health Care Costs

Health literacy is #1. People with low health literacy have a higher risk of death, more emergency room visits, more hospitalizations, more diabetes-related problems, a higher incidence of cancer and are more likely to take medicines incorrectly. According to the American Medical Association, “poor health literacy is a stronger predictor of a person’s health than age, income, employment status, education level and race.”

Low health literacy not only adversely affects an individual’s health and quality of life, but it is expensive. Low health literacy in the United States is estimated to cost the economy between $106 billion and $238 billion each year. These expenses are borne by hospitals, clinics, individuals, government and others.

What Is Health Literacy?

Health literacy refers to the way health information is presented and how it is understood. Raising rates of health literacy is a meaningful patient-centered approach to improve health care across the board as well as cut costs.

Strategies to Improve Health Literacy

There are several ways for hospitals and clinics to improve health literacy among those they serve. This includes:

  • Making information understandable. Ensure that brochures, forms, publications and all other materials for the public are written and presented in a clear and concise way.
  • Taking culture into account. Culture affects how people understand as well as respond to health information. Allow for cultural differences from the biggest cultural groups in your area.
  • Translating and interpreting health information into languages other than English. Immigrant and limited English proficient populations benefit immensely from access to health information in the languages they understand best.

Translation and Interpretation

Patients can’t make good health decisions if they don’t understand what’s happening to them and what they can do about it. Ensuring that foreign-language translation and interpretation is adequately available in hospitals and clinics gives all patients a greater chance to make informed decisions about their health. This includes all stages of health care access: prevention, treatment and after-care.

To raise rates of health literacy, give people sufficient opportunities to understand the health information presented to them.

Responsive Translation has decades of experience providing translation and interpretation services for hospitals and clinics across North America. For more information on improving rates of health literacy and reducing health care costs through translation, please contact us at +1-212-355-4455 or

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