Culturally Competent Care

Culturally competent care is a life-long learning journey.

It is developed through consistent encounters with patients. Building a good rapport with patients can help them understand their health care needs, and have happier, heathier outcomes. Cultural competence is an ongoing learning process, that includes skills, values and principles that acknowledge, respect, and contribute to effective interactions between individuals and the cultural groups you come in contact with.

Highmark Health Options has assembled a list of resources and web-based tools that are intended to help build sensitivity to the cultural and linguistic differences, and to foster improved understanding and communication.

If you or your staff would like to better understand how cultural issues can affect health care and health care outcomes, use this guide as a starting point. We've done the research for you and have a wealth of information that will help you gain a better understanding of cultural competency and health equity.


Assessment tools for evaluating your practice

Georgetown University's National Center for Cultural Competence 
This site offers self-assessment tools that can be used to measure growth. 

Office of Minority Health Cross Cultural Clinical Practice Guidelines (PDF)
Cross-cultural clinical practice implementation resource guide for Medicaid practitioners

Communication regulations and resources

TITLE VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
Providers are expected to comply with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that prohibits race, color or national origin discrimination in programs receiving Federal funds. Providers are obligated to take reasonable steps to provide meaningful access to services for members with limited English proficiency, including provision of translator services as necessary for these members.

Access and Interpreters for Disabled Members 
Provider offices are expected to address the need for interpreter services in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Each provider is expected to arrange and coordinate interpreter services to assist members who are hearing impaired. Highmark Health Options (HHO) will assist providers in locating resources upon request. HHO offers the Member Handbook and other HHO information in large print or Braille at no cost to the member. Please instruct members to call Member Services at 1-844-325-6251 to ask for these other formats.

Provider offices are required to adhere to the Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines, Section 504, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and related federal and state requirements that are enacted from time-to-time.

Providers may obtain copies of documents that explain legal requirements for translation services by contacting HHO's Provider Services Department at 1-844-325-6251.

Communication tools and web resources

Better Communication, Better Care: Provider Tools to Care for Diverse Populations (PDF)
This tool kit provides guidance to help providers care for diverse populations.

Office of Minority Health / Think Cultural Health
"The Guide to Providing Effective Communication and Language Assistance Services" helps providers communicate effectively with patients with diverse communication needs and preferences.

Health care disparities

National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report
The 2019 National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report indicates access to health care significantly improved between 2000-2018, while gains in quality of care varied among six priority areas: patient safety; person-centered care; care coordination; effective treatment; healthy living; and care affordability.

Unequal Treatment
Comprehensive study that found a consistent body of research demonstrating significant variation in the rates of medical procedures by race. Experts offer recommendations for improvements.

How Far Have We Come in Reducing Health Disparities?
2010 Institute of Medicine report that shows how little progress has been made.

Health literacy

Ask Me 3 (PDF)
From the Partnership for Clear Health Communications, Ask Me 3 is three questions patients should ask their doctor, nurse, or pharmacist to better understand their health. 

Health Literacy Fact Sheets
Created by The Center for Health Care Strategies, these fact sheets are designed to help providers improve care for patients with low health literacy. Topics include:

  • What is health literacy?
  • Health literacy role of culture
  • Improving oral communication to promote health literacy

Appropriate Use of Medical Interpreters
An article from the American Family Physician journal.

Incorporating Medical Interpretation Into Your Practice
An article from the Family Practice Management journal.

Using Bilingual Staff Members as Interpreters
An article from the Family Practice Management journal. 

Learn more about the cultures you serve

US Census Bureau
This site provides quick facts about Delaware.

Web-based modules for continuing education credit

Think Cultural Health Physician's Guide to Culturally Competent Care

A Physician’s Practical Guide to Culturally Competent Care from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Office of Minority Health (9.0 CMEs)

Quality Interactions Course
Quality Interactions for Physicians from Manhattan Cross Cultural Group (MCCG) is accredited by Tufts University School of Medicine (2.5 CME). There are also similar courses designed for non-clinical staff, nurses, and care managers.

DiversityRx Website
Diversity Rx offers webinars on various topics that will help your practice meet the cultural and linguistic needs of your practice. In addition, Diversity Rx provides information on models of practice, legal issues and policies.

OMHD About Eliminating Disparities
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has selected six focus areas in which racial and ethnic minorities experience serious disparities in health access and outcomes. Learn more about promising interventions and management strategies.