We Ask Because We Care: The REAL (Race, Ethnicity and preferred Language) impact
September 5, 2023
We began asking patients like you to volunteer their Race, Ethnicity and preferred Language (REAL) information. Why do we ask? Because it makes healthcare better for everybody. To understand how it improves health for all, dive into the REAL story of Diana and Sonia.
Diana Alvarez is our Community Health Equity Liaison. A few months ago, she met Sonia, a patient who wanted to schedule an automated whole breast ultrasound (ABUS). Sonia had two problems: Insurance would not cover her procedure, and she only speaks Spanish.
Language plays a huge role in Sonia’s ability to access healthcare. Many resources are provided in English and translated into Spanish, along with other languages. Fortunately, dedicated liaisons, educators and translators exist to support patients with language needs — that’s why REAL Data is so important. Information you provide about your language or cultural background is used to improve patient care and identify community needs.
People like Diana Alvarez joined NorthShore – Edward-Elmhurst Health to address those needs. Growing up, Diana helped her family navigate the healthcare system, and she often served as a Spanish translator during visits to the doctor’s office. When she learned about Sonia’s challenge, Diana immediately connected her to a community partner who covered the ABUS and scheduled it at NorthShore Immediate Care Center in Gurnee. In the end, Sonia’s results came back healthy. We sat down with Sonia and translated her thoughts on the experience.
“I wish there were more people like Diana,” said Sonia, “She’s helping a lot of people to not get sick, and the best thing about her is her big heart. It takes someone who has gone through a lot to understand others and go out of their way to help.”
Thanks to REAL Data, there are more people like Diana throughout our health system. In fact, some primary care locations employ Spanish-speaking diabetes educators.
“Early on, when we looked at the data, we saw that the rate of diabetes among the Hispanic and African -American population was much higher than our general patient population,” said Annette Kenney, Chief Strategy Officer at NorthShore – Edward-Elmhurst Health. “That prompted us to establish a pilot program where we embedded a Spanish-speaking diabetes educators and navigators into primary care offices in the Addison community.”
What does this program mean to you? A successful educator program may help you or someone you love avoid a trip to the hospital or the emergency department. Overall, it allows us to provide better care and improve healthcare for all our patients.
Help us improve your care by updating your REAL information
Help us understand your healthcare needs and make a REAL impact. By knowing about your race, ethnicity and preferred language, we’re able to better personalize patient care and inform you about diseases and conditions that may impact your health.
If you haven’t already done so, consider updating your information in MyChart (go to Your Menu, Account Settings, Personal Information, Details About Me, select “Edit”). Your information is kept strictly confidential and is protected by HIPAA. Learn more about how this improves your care here, or view our tip sheet.