Measuring and improving the quality of hospital language services: Insights from the Speaking Together collaborative

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of General Internal Medicine


Volume 22, Supplement 2

Inclusive Pages



Communication Barriers; Program Development--methods; Quality Assurance, Health Care--methods; Translating; Hospital Services; Immigrant Health; Minority Health


In 2006, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation launched Speaking Together: National Language Services Network, an initiative designed to improve the quality and availability of language services in US hospitals. Speaking Together works with hospitals that were selected through a competitive application process with multiple levels of review. The selection process targeted hospitals with substantial numbers of limited English-proficient (LEP) patients and well-established language programs that could complete a complex project with rigorous data collection requirements. The result is a group of 10 hospitals (Table 1) whose language services are more robust than the average hospital and that bring enthusiasm to the process of performance improvement in language services, dedication to working collaboratively through interdisciplinary project teams, and strong commitment from senior leadership to support their efforts.

In this Commentary, the Author offers personal insights from her role as Director of the National Program Office for Speaking Together.


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Peer Reviewed