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Health Care Language Services Implementation Guide

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Welcome to Health Care Language Services Implementation Guide at HHS OMH’s Think Cultural Health. Each of the programs featured on Think Cultural Health (TCH) are founded on the National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services in Health and Health Care (National CLAS Standards).

In April 2013, the National CLAS Standards were re-released after undergoing a two-year enhancement initiative. This program, along with others featured on TCH, is scheduled to be under annual review for accreditation purposes and will be updated to reflect the National CLAS Standards enhancements.

To assist you during this transition, we recommend that you reference this crosswalk (PDF - 115 KB) and fact sheet (PDF - 59 KB) which will assist in understanding the numbering and organization of the re-released National CLAS Standards.

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Health Care Language Services Implementation Guide

With growing concerns about racial, ethnic, and language disparities in health and health care and the need for healthcare systems to accommodate increasingly diverse patient populations, language access services (LAS) have become more and more a matter of national importance. As part of its mission, the Office of Minority Health (OMH), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), seeks to:

Improve the health of racial and ethnic minority populations through the development of effective health policies and programs that help to eliminate disparities in health.

OMH has sponsored the development of this guide to help health care organizations implement effective LAS to meet the needs of their patients with limited English proficiency (LEP), thereby increasing their access to health care.

The guide can help you get started. As your community and your organization evolve over time, you can use the guide to assist you with the evolution of your LAS. As such, your health care organization can continue on your mission to provide quality health care to all of the patients who seek your assistance, regardless of their language ability.

The guide lays out the basic steps for implementing LAS, and the process for carrying out each step is explained in detail and supplemented with links to resources and tips on alternative ways to complete the step.