Kaiser Permanente Recognized by NCQA for Innovative Program to Reduce Health Care Disparities

OAKLAND, Calif., Nov. 16 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kaiser Permanente has received the "Recognizing Innovation in Multicultural Health Care Award" from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) for its efforts to provide health plan members across t`he country with culturally and linguistically appropriate health care services.

"Kaiser Permanente has created an innovative program that health plans nationwide should use as a model for bridging language and cultural gaps that so easily get in the way of quality health care," said Margaret E. O'Kane, president of NCQA.

Kaiser Permanente serves over 8.7 million members who represent over 120 different languages. The health plan provides translated materials that are critical to providing quality and equitable health care for patients who have limited English proficiency.

With its National Standardized Quality Translation Initiative, Kaiser Permanente is addressing the dearth of translated materials in health care, as well as the need to verify the quality of translations. The health plan's national initiative strives to improve both access to and quality of translated materials; underscoring Kaiser Permanente's commitment to the provision of quality and equitable health care as well as culturally and linguistically competent care.

The health plan's accomplishments in this area include the creation of the Kaiser Permanente Health Care Glossary with over 3,000 terms translated in Spanish, including approximately 1,000 terms commonly used in health care system. The Health Care Glossary is currently available in seven languages; English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Armenian, and Russian. The Health Care Glossary led to the refinement of Kaiser Permanente's previously existing Trilingual Reference Manuals, which now have been disseminated to all Kaiser Permanente Regions as well as partnering institutions in the community. More than 10,000 reference manuals have been shipped since 2006.

Moving forward, Kaiser Permanente is incorporating the standardized quality translation process into a web-based environment, thereby facilitating shared access, creating opportunities for collaboration, reducing translation redundancy, and improving translation quality through systematic application of the evidence-based quality assurance and quality improvement process.

"It is a major priority for Kaiser Permanente to be culturally competent in every aspect of our care delivery and service," said George C. Halvorson, chairman and CEO of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc., and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals. "We are honored to be acknowledged by the NCQA for our accomplishments in further breaking the barriers to health communication by providing accurate and usable health information to our members and the communities we serve."

According to the landmark 2002 Institute of Medicine study, "Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care," minorities in the U.S. tend to get lower quality health care than whites, even when such factors as medical conditions, insurance and economic status are equivalent.

Kaiser Permanente received its award in Washington, D.C. on November 13 during the second annual "Breakthroughs in Reducing Health Care Disparities." The award was initiated after the NCQA -- with major funding from The California Endowment and support from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services -- started to investigate the feasibility for health plans to provide culturally and linguistically appropriate care and to monitor health care disparities using clinical quality data.

For information about the other health plans recognized in 2007 by NCQA, as well the conferences on multicultural health care, visit http://www.ncqa.org.

About Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente is America's leading integrated health plan. Founded in 1945, it is a not-for-profit; group practice prepayment program headquartered in Oakland, Calif. Kaiser Permanente serves the health care needs of more than 8.7 million members in nine states and the District of Columbia. Today it encompasses the not-for-profit Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc., Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and their subsidiaries, and the for-profit Permanente Medical Groups. Nationwide, Kaiser Permanente includes approximately 156,000 technical, administrative and clerical employees and caregivers, and more than 13, 000 physicians representing all specialties. For more Kaiser Permanente news, visit the KP News Center at: http://xnet.kp.org/newscenter.

About NCQA

NCQA is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to improving health care quality. NCQA accredits and certifies a wide range of health care organizations and recognizes physicians in key clinical areas. NCQA's Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS) is the most widely used performance measurement tool in health care. NCQA is committed to providing health care quality information through the Web, media and data licensing agreements in order to help consumers, employers and others make more informed health care choices. For more information, visit http://www.ncqa.org.

About The California Endowment

The California Endowment, a private, statewide health foundation, was established in 1996 to expand access to affordable, quality health care for underserved individuals and communities, and to promote fundamental improvements in the health status of all Californians. For more information, visit http://www.calendow.org.

SOURCE Kaiser Permanente

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