Byram, patients hablan español

Saturday, May 31, 2008

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y.--Mail order giant Byram Healthcare jumped into the Latino market with both feet in March when it launched its national Latino Diabetes Program.

Not content to just “dabble” in the market, Byram created a dedicated organization within the company that focuses specifically on the Latino population, said Julie Altwies, Byrams’ vice president of marketing, diabetes.

“Rather than try to fit a Spanish-speaking customer into an English organization, we wanted every touch-point for the patient to be in Spanish,’” she said. “Everything and everyone they interface with is presented in their own language, which makes a better experience for someone dealing with a language barrier.”

Latinos comprise about 14.8% of the U.S. population and they’re the fastest growing demographic. The incidence of diabetes among Latinos is two to four times that of non-Latino Caucasions, and the onset of Type 2 diabetes skews toward younger Latinos, said Altwies.

The program offers supply-side services like ordering, reimbursement and prescription labels; but it also offers clinical services, such has diabetes educators, tailored to the Latino market.

Understanding a specific population, rather than lumping all diabetes patients into one homogenous group, is important in getting patients to successfully self-manage their disease, said Altwies.

“Typically what’s happened is something designed for an English population is translated into Spanish, but it may not be relevant to a Spanish patient,” she said. “Look at food management, for example. The food choices you present are different. Or maybe it’s an understanding of what role food plays in a particular culture.”

Launched as a pilot in the spring of 2007 in California, Byram has ramped up outreach for the program. In addition to traditional methods of calling on referral sources, marketing takes a more personal approach, said Altwies.

“We get more involved in community events, more face-to-face contact,” she said.