Sixth National Conference on Quality Health Care for Culturally Diverse Populations: Peer-to-Peer Practice Advancement Sessions The website, Resources for Cross Cultural Health Care

C-6 Reaching thousands: Using the internet to improve outreach, collaboration, and information dissemination

The website, Resources for Cross Cultural Health Care
Tuesday, September 23, 2008: 2:00 PM-4:00 PM, Minn Marriott, 8th Floor - Wayzata/Gray's Bay was started in 1996 with a grant from the Kaiser Family Foundation. The grant was shared between Resources for Cross Cultural Health Care and the National Council of State Legislatures. With very little else on the internet at that time related to cultural and linguistic competence, the intent was to create a website that would serve as both an introduction to the subject for beginners, as well as a source of key resource summaries (reports and tools that were mostly in print) that would give people a sense of what was out there to help them in their work. We had a fairly comprehensive skeleton of topical areas that we wanted to create content for, but as other web-based resources expanded, we realized that creating new content was not necessary – it was probably more important to help people find what was already out there. We were also interested in helping people network with each other—originally we wanted to create online forums, but instead developed the CLAS-talk listserv after a successful experience hosting the first NCIHC listserv.

The key challenges in the first phase of DiversityRx were:  the need to rely on an outside tech design and support person to add new content, often creating delays in getting new content posted or making updates; having as content developers outside people who were very busy with their own work; having key managers who were also busy with other projects; conceiving a scope of content that was probably too broad, and then being uncertain about which areas to tackle first. The primary cost in the initial phase was the technical design costs, along with staff time at both organizations to develop and manage the project, and honoraria for the guest editors who created a good deal of the initial content.

After the initial grant phase ended, the content development and tech costs were paid for by funding connected with the DiversityRx conference series (or research and policy development projects being conducted by RCCHC). This shifted the focus of the website from developing original content to using it as a home for conference-related information. After several conferences, we realized that we had a very rich set of resources in the hundreds of conference presentation abstracts (which are descriptions of programs, policies, and research with presenter bios and contact information). But they were awkward to access as there was no internal search engine on the site. We began to think about enhancing the utility of this resource by putting all the abstracts into a searchable data base – an expensive and time-consuming proposition. As the number of cultural competence resources on the web began to increase, we also began to think about positioning DiversityRx as a value-added resource:  identifying key resources in the field, and writing about their utility to different audiences and for different needs. This approach is an extension of RCCHC’s original mission to provide advice and technical support (by phone and email) to anyone with a query, and builds on the process of soliciting and reviewing model programs and policies through the abstract review process for each conference.

We’ve learned a lot from the success of the CLAS-talk listserv and from comments by conference attendees about the networking value of the conference. We know that people are stimulated and learn better by having dialogues with colleagues and learning from other’s experience. We’d like the website to complement and extend that, both after the conference for those who attend, and also for those who don’t.  Among the tools we’re discussing (and surveying people about) are creating a directory of profiles, where people can share their information about themselves and their work (now on the conference website); organizing small groups of people with similar programs and work challenges who could share information and support each other through web and teleconference tools (sometimes called communities of practice); hosting user-generated content, like a mini-encyclopedia of information related to cross cultural health care (eg, a wiki); and other ideas.  More information about the development process can be found in the Your Voice section of the conference binder and the conference website. The key is to discover what people’s information needs and concerns are, and to find a compelling way to bring them together.

The last challenge we’re exploring is how to use these tools to build a platform for international networking and information sharing. There are many countries with terrific program and policy models, and many others that are just beginning to explore how to bridge language and cultural differences in health care. Our goal is to present resources and support connections across countries in a way that will be meaningful for people with different societal, organizational, and political values.

Presentation Information:

Program: Peer-to-Peer Practice Advancement Sessions
Primary Category: Policy
Subtopics: Implementing the CLAS standards or other cultural competence frameworks, information management, user surveys

Region Addressed by Presentation: National
Organization: Non-Profit Organization/Association
Keywords: information sharing, knowledge management, best practices, internet technology, networking


Julia Puebla Fortier , Resources for Cross Cultural Health Care, Versonnex, France
    Resources for Cross Cultural Health Care
    420 rue des Ouches
    Versonnex France 01210

    Phone: +33 450 42 88 30
    Email Address:

    Biographical Sketch:
    Julia Puebla Fortier has 20 years experience working in and writing about the health sector, and specializes in improving health care for culturally diverse populations. As founder and director of Resources for Cross Cultural Health Care, she works with an alliance of individuals and organizations in ethnic communities and health care to offer policy analysis, research, resources and technical assistance Through RCCHC, Ms. Fortier has spearheaded the development of several key policy tools in this area. She was the principal author of the National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) in Health Care for the US Department of Health and Human Services. She has consulted with other HHS agencies to develop model contracting specifications on cultural competence for state Medicaid agencies and the managed care organizations they contract with, a national research agenda to promote outcomes-related research on cultural and linguistic health care interventions, and a framework for integrating cultural competence in the quality improvement agenda. Ms. Fortier developed and manages the DiversityRx website--a comprehensive clearinghouse of information on model programs and policies related to cross cultural health since 1996--and its listserv of over 1200 participants. RCCHC is the co- producer of the national conferences series “Quality Health Care for Culturally Diverse Populations,” held five times since October 1998, and supported by USDHHS and major foundations, corporations, and national organizations. Ms. Fortier previously worked for 7 years on the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Health and the Environment (Rep. Henry A. Waxman, Chairman), and was Chair of the Board and a volunteer for the Washington (DC) Free Clinic. She lives in France, and is currently working to build collaborative relationships worldwide among those interested in the intersection of culture and health.