June 2008

From the Chief of General Internal Medicine

Dear Colleagues,

Primary care medicine is the foundation of our health care system. Even in a standard 15-minute visit, we have the opportunity to provide excellent care and positively impact our patients' health. Communication with patients is at the core of primary care medicine and becomes a special challenge when caring for patients who have limited English proficiency and health literacy and who are from different cultural backgrounds.

One of the topics we have highlighted in this issue addresses ways to improve health outcomes in these patients. There is excellent evidence proving that the use of professional interpreters leads to better patient outcomes, fewer errors and overall better quality of communication and satisfaction with medical encounters.

Tools to assist clinicians caring for patients with limited health literacy are readily available and training in cultural competence has become a standard component of most organizations in the diverse San Francisco Bay Area.

We hope that the brief updates in our third issue of Primary Care Connections help you stay on top of advances in specialty and preventive medicine, chronic disease management and practical information on a wide range of clinical problems.

Thank you again for your interest.

Best regards,

Chief, Division of General Internal Medicine
UCSF Medical Center
Professor of Medicine, UCSF