COVID-19 Language Services for Hospitals: Understanding Remote Interpreting Solutions


For many hospitals and healthcare systems, On-Site Interpretation has been the primary method of interpretation for limited English proficient patients. In 2019, many organizations supplemented on-site interpretation with video remote interpretation. During the COVID-19 pandemic use of video remote interpretation (VRI) has skyrocketed as hospitals turn to remote interpreting methods for public health and patient safety.  For hospitals that are increasing use of remote interpreting solutions (such as VRI and Telephonic Interpretation), it’s helpful to understand how hospital language services impact key quality metrics, and how utilizing these remote interpreting methods can help.

While the global Coronavirus (COVID-19) has caused a strain for hospitals and healthcare professionals worldwide, one thing is certain. Limited English proficient and Deaf and Hard of Hearing patients still need language access. How can stressed health care systems continue to provide critical language services with a need for social distancing?  Today we’ll be looking at the importance of hospital language services, and how remote interpreting services can help healthcare professionals communicate most effectively.


The Overall Impact of Quality Hospital Language Services

Limited English proficient (LEP) patients are at higher risk of readmission, longer length of stay, and adverse events. Quality of language services is the most important consideration for language support in healthcare settings and is especially relevant for supporting positive customer experiences and health outcomes. Here are 3 key reasons to provide high-quality hospital language services:
1. Section 1557 Compliance

Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) applies to health programs and activities, “any part of which is receiving Federal financial assistance.” Therefore, hospitals, clinics, and physician practices receiving Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement must comply with the law. 


2. Reducing Readmission Rates

Language barriers in hospital settings can contribute to avoidable readmissions, including lower rates of outpatient follow-up, use of preventive services, medication adherence, and understanding discharge diagnosis and instructions.

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), LEP patients receiving quality language interpretation has a positive impact on length of stay and reducing rates of readmission:

  • Patients spent 1.5 days fewer in the hospital when an interpreter is provided
  • Patients receiving interpretation at admission and discharge are less likely to be readmitted within 30 days.
  • Interpreter services result in shorter length of stay in Emergency Departments


3. Patient Satisfaction

HCAHPS scores help determine reimbursement levels for hospitals and healthcare organizations, and negative patient experiences can result in lower scores that affect reimbursement levels. For this reason, it’s critical that healthcare organizations invest in quality language services to improve HCAHPS scores and patient satisfaction. 

Quality Language Services and LEP Patient Experience and HCAHPS Scores:

  • Hospitals with greater cultural competency have better HCAHPS scores for doctor communication, hospital rating, and hospital recommendation
  • LEP patients in the emergency department report higher satisfaction (96%) with their communication in the ER when provided a professional than LEP patients who did not receive professional interpretation (26%)

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), LEP patients receiving language interpretation has a positive impact in many areas. Watch the video below for a few key benefits of professional interpretation in hospital settings…


Does the Method of Interpretation Impact Patient Satisfaction in Hospital Settings?


In a recent review (compiled of eight studies) published by,  there were interesting findings regarding patient satisfaction with professional interpreters – whether by telephonic or video interpretation, or on-site interpretation.

Here’s what they uncovered…

  • There is evidence of higher satisfaction with hospital-trained interpreters compared with ad hoc (friend or family)
  • There is no difference in satisfaction between in-person interpreting, telephone interpreting, or interpretation provided by the treating bilingual physician
  • Video interpreting has the same satisfaction as in-person interpreting, regardless of whether the patient and the physician are in the same room.

Source: “Patient satisfaction of telephone or video interpreter services compared with in-person services: a systematic review.”

Understanding Remote Interpreting Services for Hospitals


Video Remote Interpretation

Video remote interpreting medical services allow organizations to quickly meet the needs of limited English proficient and Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing patients, regardless of the language they speak.

Piloting New Video Remote Interpretation Services | TelelanguageFast Response for Urgent Situations: VRI allows you to provide a fast response for both spoken languages and deaf and Hard of Hearing clients/patients. When the need for communication is urgent, VRI provides interpreter response in seconds.

On-Demand Interpreting Solution: Urgent situations, or situations not planned in advance, often call for the use of remote interpreters to meet language support needs. On-demand supports means having access when you need it, and at Telelanguage, we provide on-demand access to professional interpreters 24 hours a day, 7 days per week, 365 days year.

Enhanced Accuracy: The visual support associated with Video Remote Interpreting can provide enhanced accuracy for spoken language and American Sign Language (ASL).

Cost-Effective: Video remote interpretation fills the gap between over-the-phone and on-site interpretation services. Conventional on-site interpreting typically requires at least a two-hour minimum charge and possibly mileage and travel charges. VRI services can help optimize your interpretation budget while adding the benefit of visual support. When searching for a VRI provider, be sure to ask if there are hourly minimums associated with VRI technology. Part of Telelanguage’s commitment to our clients is that we look for ways to optimize and lower your interpretation costs, so we do not charge hourly minimums or extra expenses for VRI services.

Through Telelanguage’s secure, online portal, clients have 24x7x365 access to their data – which allows healthcare organizations to stay connected to vital data that supports more effective operations.

Situations for Video Remote Interpreting

Video Remote Interpreting, or VRI, is a video telecommunication service that uses devices such as web cameras or videophones to provide sign language or spoken language interpreting services. VRI can be an excellent remote interpreting method because, like telephonic interpreting, it is an on-demand service that can be accessed quickly. Video Interpreting also allows for the highest level of accuracy (second to only to on-site interpretation) due to the extra visual support of the interpreter and being able to pick up non-verbal communication.

While telephonic interpreting is an appropriate means for many spoken language meetings, VRI allows you a remote method of interpreting for spoken languages and American Sign Language.

Video Remote Interpreting Services makes it possible to:

  • Add visual support with enhanced accuracy
  • See facial expressions of the interpreter and know they understood what was said
  • Confirm the meaning of non-verbal communication
  • Help the conversation for you, your interpreter and your non-English speaking client


Telephonic Interpretation Services

Best Practices for Using Telephonic Interpreters in Hospitals | Telelanguage The need for interpretation services starts when you need to communicate with a limited-English proficient individual but are not able to due to a language barrier. In this instance, connecting to a certified interpreter in order to communicate quickly and effectively becomes necessary. Telephonic Interpretation is an on-demand, remote interpreting service that offers a fast response when urgent or unexpected language barriers comes up.

Telephonic interpreting offers a cost-effective interpreting solution and is perfect for most spoken language interpreting situations, including Telehealth phone appointments, that do not require non-verbal cues or visual contact with the interpreter.

Telephonic interpretation allows healthcare professionals to connect with patients on-demand, in over 300 languages. Telelanguage’s filter-based qualification interpreter connect feature allows providers to connect with a certified medical interpreter best qualified for the situation – in as little as 3-4 seconds.

  • Low per-minute rate
  • Fastest connection times in the industry
  • Multiple location and real-time transferring
  • 24x7x365 customer service support
  • COVID-19 Language Support: No Contract Required

Available at a low per-minute rate, telephonic interpreting allows you to connect to an interpreter in seconds, regardless of the language needed. Telelanguage’s proprietary technology ensures that there are no outages during national emergencies and allows you to connect to certified medical interpreters, best qualified for your situation, in over 350 languages.


How Remote Interpreting Services Help Hospitals Provide High-Quality Patient Care:

Telephonic interpreting and Video Remote Interpreting offer a cost-effective interpreting solution appropriate for most spoken language interpreting situations. VRI offers the added benefit of visual contact with the interpreter for spoken languages and American Sign Language.

  • Enhances customer/patient satisfaction
  • Reduces miscommunication errors
  • Cost-effective interpretation solutions
  • Improves efficiency
  • Increases productivity and staff adoption
  • Appropriate for situations requiring social distancing
  • Provides a response in seconds


Get More From Your Hospital Language Services Partner

Hospital Language Services | Telelanguage

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When language barriers arise in healthcare settings, you need support you can trust to protect the LEP patient experience. At Telelanguage, we provide that support with a 24/7 one-point-of-contact account management system. Over 70% of our current client base are healthcare entities. Quality of language services ensures safety, accuracy, and efficiency when caring for patients in healthcare settings. Telelanguage offers healthcare clients complete language services in over 350 languages to communicate with LEP patients:

  • Superior-trained and certified medical interpreters
  • Available 24/7, 365 days a year telephonically, on-site, and via video remote
  • Translation of vital documents, patient forms, and notices
  • Fastest interpreter connect times in the industry
  • Leading-edge proprietary interpretation technology
  • Best medically trained interpreters in the emergency healthcare industry
  • Free Cultural Awareness training to help organizations work effectively LEP patients


Telelanguage Helps Clients Achieve and Maintain Compliance

  • Affordable Care Act, Section 1557 (ACA)
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
  • Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)
  • Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI)
  • Fraud, Waste and Abuse (FWA)
  • The Joint Commission
  • Protected Health Information (PHI)


COVID-19 Language Support: No Contract Required Language Services

In light of the COVID-19 crisis, Telelanguage is offering all new contracts our language interpretation and translation services with no contract required.

You will pay ONLY for the minutes you use, and there are no minimum requirements. Call 1-888-983-5352, or email [email protected] to begin services today!


Language Access in Healthcare: Health Care Interpretation Services eBook | Telelanguage

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Having dependable access to language services allows healthcare professionals to provide better service, and shows the community you serve that you are committed to patient-centered care. It will also save time so you and your staff can be more productive when communicating through an interpreter with limited-English proficient patients.

Want to learn more about how to improve patient communication and satisfaction with language services? Get a free Guide to Language Access in Healthcare!


The Healthcare Interpretation Guide: Language Access for a Better Patient Experience! [Download Your Free Copy!]


Choosing quality in a language services partner for your hospital language services allows you to optimize interpretation cost while increasing overall patient satisfaction, reducing readmission rates, and achieving compliance with government regulations and quality standards. Create a more quality LEP patient experience. Contact Telelanguage to learn how our language access programs can benefit your organization.

Certified medical interpreters ready to speak in over 350 languages!

Call us today at 1-888-983-5352

Quality hospital language services are available over-the-phone, face to face, or via video remote!

 Best Practices for Using Telephonic Interpreters in Hospitals | TelelanguageDownload the Free eBook: Language Access in Healthcare