Access to Pharmacy Support for Members With Language Barriers

Fallon Health plan members have access to community pharmacies fluent in multiple languages, enabling consumers to consult with pharmacists or technicians in their native language.  How does this build trustworthiness?  By offering this tailored approach, Fallon Health is demonstrating a desire to understand patient needs, respect for different cultures, and a commitment to improved health literacy. Fostering an environment where members are able to communicate in their native language helps encourage a safe environment and builds confidence in consumer interaction and decision making.

How It Works

Our pharmacy department works collaboratively with our community network pharmacies to summarize and promote the unique services they offer to the members we serve. A key component of this review is determining access to adequate language support services. Lack of access to care in a member’s native language is a significant barrier to receipt of optimal pharmacy services and medication understanding. While some pharmacies offer telephonic translation services, the logistical challenges (such as time, privacy, and cultural biases) often prevent patients from utilizing it. Our goal was to provide our members access to pharmacies that can offer in-person translation support via a technician or pharmacist.

Skills and Competencies

We rely on building relationships with our network pharmacies to work together to overcome different barriers for the various populations they serve. Our pharmacists, technicians, and interns have the knowledge and expertise to conduct outreach and extensive analysis of our pharmacy network services. We then arm our internal customer service and nurse care manager teams with up to date training guides. The guides include probing questions to identify particular barriers and algorithms to provide potential solutions.

Origins

Through our research, we identified many local pharmacies that offer services in multiple languages, including Spanish, Portuguese, French, Vietnamese, Arabic, Albanian, Haitian Creole, Cantonese, Taishanese, and others. The majority of these pharmacies also offer additional services to improve adherence including specialized packaging and home delivery. We evaluated the different types of specialized packaging systems and summarized the advantages and disadvantages of each system. We also determined the delivery radius of pharmacies that did offer home delivery. Call center and nursing staff are trained to educate members about all available pharmacy resources so they can find the pharmacy that best fits their needs. We continually evaluate our pharmacy network capabilities to maintain up to date information for our staff and members.

Effectiveness

We have not been able to quantify the impact of network pharmacies offering on-site language services at this time. However, there has been significant engagement on behalf of our pharmacy network to identify and address barriers.

Scalability

We continue to see new pharmacies expanding their services and language capabilities. The relationship building, research and network abilities continue to scale.