The Future of Language Access: A Conversation with Dr. Azizi Seixas and Jason Martin

October 6, 2022 |
Mitchell Holdwick
 | Director, Product Marketing
October 6, 2022
Mitchell Holdwick
Director, Product Marketing

Just when you figure you’ve set the biggest, hairiest, and most audacious goal (BHAG) possible for your healthcare organization, along comes Dr. Azizi Seixas. His BHAG might top them all: Creating a future of healthcare that’s personalized, precise, and intuitive.

Sure, it’s lofty. But Dr. Seixas works every day to make it a reality at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine’s Medical Innovation Lab (also called “The MIL”). “We’re essentially aiming at tackling one of the more fundamental issues we face: how can we make healthcare work for everyone regardless of their age and gender and race and socioeconomic background,” he says.

Dr. Seixas’ forward-thinking approach to innovation made him the perfect guest to join Jason Martin, Chief Product Officer at DeliverHealth, on Episode 1 of our Healthcare: Simplified podcast. Together, Jason and Dr. Seixas explored the future of language access and how technology can help bridge the gap between providers and patients.

 

“For us, a simple definition of technology is making the complex simple.”

 

Dr. Seixas kicks off the discussion by explaining how technology is a tool that can be used for both good and bad. A critical part of making technology “good” is keeping it simple. “If there’s a system that already works,” he says, “then why introduce some new digital technology or automated process.”

The most effective technologies will solve multiple pain points by using integration to help patients, providers, and peers navigate the complex, modern healthcare journey with greater efficiency. Making that happen means always keeping the human in the loop. “When we develop new technology, oftentimes we look at patients and providers and anyone else connected to that solution in that ecosystem,” Dr. Seixas says.

 

“We have some built-in resources as it relates to language access. However, there are still some challenges.”

 

Language access is a struggle nearly all health systems face. To frame the challenge, Jason shared a few stats. Patients with limited English proficiency (LEP) typically spend about 20% longer than non-LEP patients in the Emergency Department, with an average hospital length of stay that’s four days longer. Just as shocking: a retrospective cohort study of primary care patients at Mass General Brigham showed that LEP patients accounted for 30.3% of all inpatient admissions during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic vs. 8.8% of admissions pre-pandemic.

As a health system located in one of the nation’s most diverse cities, University of Miami Health already has a large number of bilingual providers who help ensure care is delivered in the right language and the right context. “However, we still have some challenges,” Dr. Seixas says.

To identify where those challenges—and opportunities—lie, the MIL is partnering with DeliverHealth on a joint research project to explore how technology can enhance health equity. The research uses data extracted from the DH Language Access, a mobile solution that connects providers and patients with interpreters in more than 250 languages using a provider’s iPhone.

 

“We want to start thinking about, does this person—the person who provides language and communication assistance—serve as a navigator? Can they help a person to ask the right types of questions that can lead to a better understanding of their treatment plan?”

“We need to be so obsessed with the consumer and the patient that whatever solution we create, implement and deploy must be intuitive.”

 

We wrapped up Episode 1 by asking Dr. Seixas what he thinks the future of language access will look like. He foresees a future state where LEP patients can use language access services to help them better understand their medical condition and communicate their needs. They can then use additional integrated technology to schedule appointments, reduce wait times, and receive even care reminders at home through smart speakers.

 

“We need to be anticipatory and intuitive about the simplification of both the patient experience and the entire ecosystem,” he says.

 

Learn more about the future of language access.

There’s so much more in Episode 1 of Healthcare: Simplified. Listen to the whole podcast and:

  • Learn about the five pillars that define Dr. Seixas’ work at The MIL
  • Gain more insight into the current state of language access in healthcare from Jason
  • Discover how data and analytics help shape better encounters for providers and LEP patients.

Listen now, and subscribe to the Healthcare: Simplified podcast today so you don’t miss an episode. Want to enhance your organization’s language access services? Learn 5 common language access mistakes to avoid and take a deep dive into how DH Language Access can help you.