Patient-Centered, Integrated Health Care Quality Measures Could Improve Health Literacy, Language Access, and Cultural Competence

The authors of this paper recommend the integration of health care quality improvement measures for health literacy, language access, and cultural competence. The paper also notes the importance of patient-centered and equity-based institutional performance assessments or monitoring systems. The authors support the continued use of specific measures such as assessing organizational system responses to health literacy or the actual availability of needed language access services such as qualified interpreters as part of overall efforts to maintain quality and accountability.

Moreover, this paper is informed by previous recommendations from a commissioned paper provided by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) to the Roundtable on Health Literacy of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. In the commissioned paper, NCQA explained that health literacy, language access, and cultural competence measures are siloed and need to generate results that enhance patient care improvements. The authors suggest that the integration of health literacy, language access, and cultural competence measures will provide for institutional assessment across multiple dimensions of patient vulnerabilities. With such integration, health care organizations and providers will be able to cultivate the tools needed to identify opportunities for quality improvement as well as adapt care to meet diverse patients’ complex needs. Similarly, this paper reinforces the importance of providing more “measures that matter” within clinical settings.

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