Cultural Competency Toolkit

Highmark Wholecare’s mission is to care for the whole person in all communities where the need is greatest.  Highmark Wholecare understands that in order to help improve the quality of life for our members, we must first take into account their cultural and linguistic differences.  For this reason, addressing the social determinants of health is high on our leadership agenda.  Highmark Wholecare believes a strong patient-provider relationship is the key to reducing the gap in unequal healthcare access and health outcomes by focusing on education and prevention.

In addition, Highmark Wholecare has cross-cultural education programs in place to increase awareness of racial and ethnic disparities in healthcare among our employees, member and providers.  Most importantly, we make every attempt to meet our member’s needs by supporting a provider network that mirrors the diverse patient populations in the communities we serve. Highmark Wholecare is an active partner in the community through many outreach and community based activities.


Effective Communication

In alignment with Federal and state law, Highmark Wholecare requires that healthcare providers arrange for ways to interface with patients who have communication disabilities.  This includes providing language access interpreter services to individuals with limited English proficiency, and communication aids for patients who are blind and deaf.  Aids can include the use of Braille, large print documents and/or qualified sign language interpreters.  Effective interface serves as a means by which to avoid any unclear or inadequate communication that could lead to an adverse outcome.

Covering Linguistic Gaps and Cultural Competence through E-Learning

Culturally competent programs maintain a set of perspectives that advance positive and effective interactions with diverse cultures.  Practicing cultural competence to honor and respect diversity involves understanding the core needs of a patient and designing services and materials that meet those needs.  It is important to regularly and honestly evaluate your organizational and operational policies by ensuring you’re:  

  • Acknowledging the complexity of cultural identity. 
  • Recognize the dynamics of power and authority.
  • Recognize and eliminate bias in language.
  • Employ cultural appropriate options.

As the digital age continues to grow, and computer application make it easier to document and track care needs, effective communication with your patient must remain the highest high priority.  Eye contact and personal interaction goes a long way in making a patient feel comfortable and more engaged during an appointment.

Highmark Wholecare understand that in order to best improve health outcomes, we must first be cognizant of the social determinants of health.  For this reason, we have assembled some resources and web based tools to aid you and office staff in providing care that is sensitive to the cultural and linguistic differences of a your diverse patient population. 

Our Provider Cultural Resource Toolkit includes:

Georgetown University National Center for Cultural Competency is a comprehensive resource that provides continuing education opportunities and resources for health care professional to learn the facts about culturally and linguistically appropriate services.

Think Cultural Health is a comprehensive resource with tips for using interpreters and addressing literacy issues with a toolkit where you can earn up to 9 CME credits for completing any one of the course offerings.

The Center for HealthCare Strategies, Inc. is another excellent resource that focuses exclusively on the Social Determinants of Health.

Office of Minority Health Cross Cultural Clinical Practice Guidelines

Index of CMS Resources by Language

CCHHS Health Literacy Fact Sheets

Provider’s Guide to Quality and Culture

US Census Bureau website

Please help us improve the Highmark Wholecare member experience by completing the Cultural Competency Data Form.

Last updated on 3/31/2023 11:15:11 AM


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