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How High-Quality Interpreter “Soft Skills” may Improve HCAHPS Scores

As US demographics continue to shift, hospital language services increasingly impact executive-level priorities. The struggle for great HCAHPS scores exemplifies the interaction between boosting patient satisfaction – now a major factor affecting hospital reimbursements – and language services. This ongoing development may put language services leaders in a position to either help or hinder hospital goals.

 See below for an excerpt from CyraCom’s new whitepaper, Improving HCAHPS: Boosting Patient Satisfaction through Great Language Services.




HCAHPS contains 11 questions on clear communication, asking whether the patient understood their provider and felt listened-to and respected. For LEP patients, these answers may depend in part on the quality of interpreter provided, including soft skills like:

Cultural Awareness and Sensitivity

Quality interpretation goes beyond conveying meaning. Attention to culturally and linguistically appropriate politeness markers – using the correct honorific or title, or changing verbs and sentence structure to apply a more respectful tone – may impact the patient’s experience as well.

 Cultural Brokering for Clearer Comprehension

Skilled interpreters apply cultural brokering, clarifying phrases and expressions which make sense in English but may not be clear in the target language. Quality interpretation involves converting these phrases into something the LEP patient can understand, improving comprehension and displaying cultural sensitivity.

Collectively, politeness markers and cultural brokering can help create a more positive and professional experience for all parties involved in the conference. LEP patients may feel more comfortable expressing themselves once these best practices are put in place. Hospitals with leading language services programs train their interpreters in these essential skills and partner with language services providers who do the same.

Curious how interpretation services affect CMS quality ratings? See our new whitepaper.  Download Now