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HHS Launches Spanish Language App to Help Latinos Navigate Health Care Questions, Issues New Report Highlighting Latino Coverage Issues

New Tool Helps Patients Develop Questions for their Doctor’s Appointments and Provides the Latest Information on COVID-19

Today, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) launched a Spanish version of its QuestionBuilder app, which can help Latino patients prepare for their in-person or telehealth appointments. The HHS Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) built QuestionBuilder en Español, which is being released during Hispanic Heritage Month and Health Literacy Month, to improve health care access and equity for Latinos. Latinos have among the highest uninsured rate of any racial or ethnic group within the United States.

“Making health care easily accessible is critical to boosting health outcomes and getting more people covered,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra. “The QuestionBuilder App in Spanish will be a gamechanger for many Latinos who struggle to communicate with their providers due to language barriers. The Biden-Harris Administration will continue to promote health equity and make health care accessible for all Americans.”

HHS also released a report today that shows insurance coverage and access to care improved significantly for Latinos between 2013 and 2016 after passage of the Affordable Care Act. Despite these improvements, however, Latinos are still more likely to delay care and are less likely to have a usual source of care – disparities that are even larger among Spanish speaking individuals. Spanish speakers will now be able to use the QuestionBuilder app to prepare themselves for their medical appointments regardless of whether they are visiting a new medical provider or not.

The HHS report found that Spanish-speaking Latino adults are more likely to worry about medical bills compared to their English-speaking counterparts, and previous research shows that Latinos with limited English proficiency are less likely to obtain outpatient care and receive prescriptions than English-speaking Latinos. By helping patients to prepare for medical appointments, the Spanish-language QuestionBuilder improves health care decision making for Spanish-speaking patients.

“Research clearly shows that when patients communicate effectively with their health care team, clinical care and outcomes improve,” said AHRQ Acting Director David Meyers, MD. “Given that most U.S. medical visits average 20 minutes or less, the app helps patients maximize the value of the time they have with their health care providers.”

Users of the QuestionBuilder in Spanish choose questions they want to ask their doctor, starting with a list of common questions that can be customized to fit individual needs. The QuestionBuilder in Spanish also allows users to input details of their upcoming appointments, such as date and reason for the visit. Through the app, users can email information to themselves or others for reference and make notes during their medical visit.

Other features include:

  • Content and questions organized by type of medical encounter, such as medical visit or preparing for surgery.
  • Consumer education materials and videos about the importance of asking questions and sharing information.
  • A camera option that allows users to document visual information such as a skin rash, upload insurance or prescription medication information, and other photo-enabled features.
  • Links to helpful resources, including to the most up-to-date information on COVID-19 in Spanish from HHS and where to find the nearest vaccination site.

The QuestionBuilder in Spanish is available for phone, tablet, or laptop at no charge through Apple App Store and Google Play. Research shows that Latinos are avid consumers of digital content and the use of mobile phones in this community is about 85 percent.

The mission of AHRQ is to produce evidence to make health care safer, higher quality, more accessible, equitable, and affordable, and to work within HHS and with other partners to make sure that the evidence is understood and used. For more information, visit www.ahrq.gov.

The Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) is the principal advisor to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on policy development, and is responsible for major activities in policy coordination, legislation development, strategic planning, policy research, evaluation, and economic analysis.

For more information on the ASPE Issue Brief, visit: https://aspe.hhs.gov/reports/health-insurance-coverage-access-care-among-latinos

For more information on Hispanic Heritage Month, visit: https://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/hispanic-heritage-month/