Without a translator, a doc might as well be a vet…

Earlier today, my Health Access colleagues Elizabeth Abbott and Bruce Occena attended a press conference at UCDavis Medical Center in Sacramento, to spotlight the new Department of Managed Health Care regulations on cultural and linguistic access to health care.

It’s hard to overstate the importance of these regulations, which implement a bill by Sen. Escutia a few years ago. With a state as diverse as California, and with many people who don’t speak English well or at all, you can’t have access to health care with language access. Health care is all about that doctor-patient communication, and you can’t have communcation with translation.

Working with groups like the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network and many others, we have been working for policies to ensure language access to health services.

Health Access has also been pioneering a Video Medical Interpretation (VMI) technology, to use the power of videoconferencing to cost-effectively and efficiently provide translation services. The Health Access VMI project working in Alameda and San Francisco counties has helped use the economies of scale through this technology to radically reduce waiting times for translation service, and provide a broader range of languages to patients. More information is available at:

The next challenge, however, is to make sure that HMO patients know about their rights to get translation services. Spread the word!

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.
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