taking your medication?” But then
the patient says she does take her
medication, and an unnecessary
argument has started.
“If a doctor asks, ‘What problems are you having with taking
your medication?’ that is a softer
way of getting to the patient’s issues,” says Grace Ting, health-services director, Programs in
Clinical Excellence for WellPoint.
WellPoint counts 34. 8 million
people as members, which means
one in 10 Americans holds a WellPoint insurance card. The company is the largest health company
in California, a state with a majority population of color, a significant portion of which is Spanish-speaking. The company is about
to launch a “Hispanic initiative” to
attract more Latino members.
WellPoint training breaks
down the cultural norms for
blacks, Asian Americans, Latinos
and white people. Blacks can
harbor distrust for the medical
community because of historical disenfranchisement and the
lingering effects of such horror
stories as the Tuskegee syphilis
experiment. White people tend
to favor direct interaction that is
emotionally reserved, while blacks
and Caribbean Latinos prefer a
direct approach that is emotionally
charged, says Ting.
“For African Americans and Cubans, being emotional and charged
shows you care, but for Anglos, the
more emotive a doctor is, that creates a loss of trust,” says Ting.
Many Asian-American, Central
American and South American patients prefer indirect and emotion-
ally reserved communication from
their doctors, says Ting.
“Knowing the culture allows a
doctor to communicate in a way
that creates trust, so a patient, or
in our case a member, believes the
medical information provided has
their best interest at heart, that
there are medical imperatives for
taking their medications and that
we’re not just trying to take their
money but that we’re trying to
improve their health,” says Ting.
COUR TESY OF WELLPOIN T
WellPoint is training its medical personnel in cross-cultural care.
One of DiversityInc’s 25 Noteworthy Companies
Main Competitors: CIGNA, United Health Group, WellPoint
Annual Revenue: $25 billion
Strategy: Cultural-competency training
Payoff: Increased membership because of targeting emerging markets
THE STORY: Aetna’s customer-service area is staffing units with a
host of Spanish-speaking representatives and uses interpreters and
translators to speak to members in more than 150 languages.
Aetna also provides in-language
material for it’s members, both in
print and on its internet site.
For member care, Aetna is in
the midst of training its medical
personnel on how to prevent stereotypes from influencing diagnoses and creating healthcare plans
that consider healthcare preferences in communities of color.
began in 2003 when Aetna
launched its Quality Interactions
Cross-Cultural Training, which
is mandated for all of Aetna’s
internal clinical staff. More than
2,000 Aetna clinicians have
completed the training.