Cultural Competency & Health Literacy

Much of the NYP PPS service area is comprised of linguistically isolated and culturally diverse ethnic and racial minorities. In response, the NYP PPS has adopted a patient-centered approach to cultural competency, which is aligned with the National Quality Forum’s (NQF) Cultural Competency framework. As part of this approach, the NYP PPS realizes that the burden of clear communication and understanding is placed on the provider, not the patient. A patient’s unique culture defines the illness experience and the target of effective treatment and care. On the other hand, the culture of a population determines the characteristics of successful public health and community health interventions.

Design Credit: Dr. Craig Froehle, Ph.D.

As defined by the World Health Organization, “equity is the absence of avoidable or remediable differences among groups of people, whether those groups are defined socially, economically, demographically, or geographically.” As the PPS works toward achieving the Triple Aim (improved health, improved quality, lower costs), it is crucial also to deliberately continue working toward achieving health equity and eliminating health disparities so that these efforts and services are fully accessible to the populations we serve regardless of race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, age, religion, creed, disability, etc. The goal of the NewYork-Presbyterian Performing Provider System’s Cultural Competency and Health Literacy Strategy is to develop a PPS-wide approach that respects diversity, focuses on clear communication, emphasizes the importance of understanding differences and engages the individual.

What is Cultural Competency?

According to the National Quality Forum, “Cultural competency is the ongoing capacity of healthcare systems, organizations, and professionals to provide for diverse patient populations high-quality care that is safe, patient and family-centered, evidence-based, and equitable.”

What is Health Literacy?

Healthy People 2010 defines health literacy as the “degree to which individuals can obtain, process, and understand the basic health information and services they need to make appropriate health decisions.”

How is the NYP PPS addressing Cultural Competency and Health Literacy?

The Cultural Competency/Health Literacy Workgroup meets monthly to carry out the strategy of the NYP PPS and maintains the following purposes:

  • To provide guidance in cultural competence, language access and health literacy to the NYP PPS in order to enhance the quality of the care provided to the patients served by the PPS network.
  • To adopt a person-centered, cross-cultural approach that does not stereotype individuals.
  • To adopt a population health approach that provides targeted resources to populations on the basis of the social and cultural characteristics identified by the Community Health Needs Assessment.
  • To promote cultural competence, linguistic access and health literacy standards as articulated in The National Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) Standards and the NQF Comprehensive Framework for Cultural Competency.
  • To help address health disparities identified by the Community Health Needs Assessment.

How can we serve you better?

In March-April of 2018, the Workgroup conducted a second needs assessment to survey collaborators on their cultural competency and health literacy strategies, training activities and needs so that the PPS can coordinate and provide support and resources, as needed. The results are being used to direct the programming and guide resource development for DSRIP Year 4. If you were not able to participate and would like to share your organization’s perspective regarding these topics, please reach out to us at

How can I get involved?

If you or your organization is interested in participating in the Workgroup or has expertise in cultural competency and health literacy and would like to help lead or plan a training event, please contact us at