“There are fundamental things about minority communities that health plans need to tap into in order to increase patient engagement in these populations, Reyer says, adding that there are often cultural differences that health organizations need to consider when interacting with people from different backgrounds.
“I don’t think mainstream organizations do a good job of recognizing the importance of family. Health plans can accomplish so much more when leaders from within the community can talk about the ACA instead of an outsider,” Reyer says.
Reyer has worked to bring healthcare messages to people in the Hispanic, Somali and Hmong communities in the Minneapolis, Minnesota area. She says that often, younger adults or children must interpret healthcare messages for adults, which causes awkwardness and a shift in the family power structure.
“It is especially hard for older refugees when their kids are the linguistic buffer,” Reyer says. “That’s why hiring neutral interpreters has been an area of focus. When a child has to be in the middle of very detailed and intimate healthcare information, it can cause patients who don’t speak English to not be truthful or be withdrawn from the process.”