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Lowell Community Health Center: Using Technology to Help Multilingual Patients Access COVID Vaccines

On any given day, up to 60 different languages can be heard in the halls and clinic rooms at Lowell Community Health Center (Lowell CHC) in Lowell, Massachusetts. With about 40 percent of its 31,000 clients speaking in a primary language other than English, the health center is dedicated to health equity and providing culturally appropriate care, communication, and patient access to information.

Lowell CHC recently launched a new COVID-19 vaccine registration system powered by intelligent automation, with a focus on assuring language access. It is the first community health center to partner with Notable, a digital health company that provides an intelligent automation platform to health care organizations.

“At Lowell CHC, one of our top commitments is to improve patient access,” said Brenda Rodriguez, the health center’s chief strategist and finance officer. “By leveraging technology like Notable, we can improve the patient experience to be more proactive and culturally proficient and set up simple processes that allow our providers and staff to better serve our community.”

Launching Intelligent Automation to Eliminate Manual Stopgaps that Lead to Suboptimal Care

Notable uses a technology that trains bots or “digital assistants” to perform tasks in the EHR just like a human would, such as logging a note, submitting an order or sending a bill to a patient. For COVID-19 vaccine distribution, Notable’s bots scan the EHR for unvaccinated patients who meet federal CDC and state eligibility recommendations. For eligible patients, Notable initiates a digital pre-screening, collects informed consent, and schedules an appointment in the patient’s preferred language.

The health center launched its new COVID-19 vaccine registration platform in early April. The initial rollout is focused on reaching patients who speak one of the health center’s four most spoken languages:  English, Spanish, Brazilian Português, and Khmer via SMS text and email. More languages will come online soon.

“With Notable, we can reach patients in their own language, in the safety of their homes, allowing them to feel heard, comforted, and secure in their interactions,” said Susan West Levine, CEO at Lowell CHC. After rolling out this technology for COVID-19 vaccine distribution, the health center will soon use Notable to automate workflows for a variety of other health services including automated patient outreach, appointment scheduling and reminders, check-in, and registration.

A Commitment to Health Equity and Patient Access to Care During COVID-19

Lowell CHC’s leadership team knew it needed to embrace, invest in, and better leverage technology to best serve its patient community, ensure health equity, and reduce stress and demands placed on staff over the past year. In addition to its partnership with Notable to automate repetitive workflows across the care continuum, the health center made these investments in language access:

  • Launched a new, bi-weekly patient newsletter in five languages
  • Enhanced language translation capacity on its website that enables visitors to read content in their preferred language
  • Regularly assesses its website analytics to better understand what information patients are seeking and the pages they search
  • Publishes a COVID-19 Vaccination Equity Report, updated weekly and available on its website
  • Ensures all content is created at a 4th to 6th-grade reading level to assure accessibility and is culturally and linguistically relevant

View NACHC resources on COVID-19 Vaccines

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