Health Care Interpretation: Improving the Quality of Patient Care

Health Care InterpretationHealth Care Interpretation promotes effective communication between limited-English proficient and Deaf and Hard of Hearing patients and health care providers. Because of the growing number of LEP patients in the United States, the demand for qualified health care interpreters has grown swiftly. In fact, the U.S. Census Bureau reports over 350 languages spoken in U.S. homes.  

What happens when a patient doesn’t speak English? When there is a language barrier in a health care setting, clinicians providing quality healthcare services need help eliminating the language barrier from a certified medical interpreter. Qualified health care interpreters are trained in specific medical terminology, medical systems and cultural awareness. Health care interpreters are a valued part of the healthcare community. Like health care providers, professional interpreters work provide critical language access that saves lives and protects patients’ health and well-being.


Health Care Interpretation and Patient Communication

Working with health care interpreters is appropriate in any health care setting, including hospitals, clinics, private practice, urgent care, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, home health care, etc.

Health care interpreters are a vital asset for every patient communication from routine medical appointments to laboratory and hospital procedures. Here are a few situations where professional health care interpretation facilitates communication:

  • Health Care InterpretationTaking a medical history
  • Giving a diagnosis
  • Performing medical procedures
  • Understanding treatments and prescriptions
  • Understanding discharge and follow up instructions
  • Admission to ER or urgent care
  • Initial medical consultations
  • Physical checkups
  • Surgery
  • Informed consent


How to Work With Health Care Interpreters

There are 3 main methods of interpreting that clinicians can use to access qualified medical interpreters: On-Site (or face-to-face) interpreting, Video Remote Interpreting (VRI), and Telephonic (or over-the-phone interpreting).  

On-Site Interpretation

On-site interpretation services continue to be high-demand for medical settings and promote the highest level of accuracy in interpreting. Here are a few situations that are appropriate for in-person interpretation:

  • Lengthy appointments or appointments planned in advance
  • When a conversation will be complex or time-consuming
  • When the subject matter is of a sensitive nature
  • When many patient appointments are scheduled close together
  • When the patient prefers to have an interpreter physically present
  • When the patient is a child as language skills may be underdeveloped

A dedicated language services provider should be able to schedule appointments for health care interpretation as needed. Sometimes unexpected language barriers come up and it’s important that your LSP be able to fulfill these requests timely. Telelanguage has the ability to have a certified medical interpreter at your location in as little as 30 minutes.


Video Remote Interpreting

Video Remote InterpretingVideo Remote Interpreting, or VRI, is the fastest-growing foreign language service in the country. An on-demand interpretation solution, VRI bridges the gap between telephonic interpreting and on-site interpreting. Benefits of Video Remote Interpreting include:

  • Gain visual support with enhanced accuracy
  • See facial expressions of the interpreter and know they understood
  • Confirm the meaning of non-verbal communication
  • Help the conversation for you, the interpreter and the LEP patient
  • Cost-effective. There are no minimum hours or mileage reimbursement needed to gain access to the interpreter.
  • On-demand access

VRI promotes the highest level of accuracy in interpreting, second only to on-site interpreting. Telelanguage provides HIPAA, HITECH and ADA compliant VRI services that can be accessed in seconds, available 24/7, 365 days a year – with assembly from any office or field site.

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Telephonic Interpretation

Telephonic interpretation is an on-demand, remote interpreting service that offers a fast response when urgent or unexpected language barriers comes up. Telephone interpreting bridges the language gap in areas where on-site interpreters cannot, such as an emergency situation that requires a fast response, or in a rural area where a local interpreter cannot be immediately available.

Telelanguage knows that in an emergency situation, seconds matter. Telelanguage connects health care professionals to trained, U.S. based health care interpreters in over 300 languages – faster than any other vendor (Average Connect Time: 7 Seconds). Our proprietary technology also ensures that there are no outages in the event of a national emergency.


Patient Experience and Professional Health Care Interpretation

Patient care inevitably suffers when there is not adequate communication. Studies show that if language barriers between doctors and patients are not conquered, misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatment are far more likely to occur. Studies from Health Services Research have found the use of a qualified medical interpreter to have a positive impact on patient care. “Use of professional interpreters is associated with improved clinical care more than is use of ad hoc interpreters, and professional interpreters appear to raise the quality of clinical care for LEP patients to approach or equal that for patients without language barriers.” Utilizing a qualified medical interpreter has been associated with:

  • Higher quality of clinical care
  • Improved care
  • Higher levels of patient satisfaction
  • Fewer communication errors
  • A greater comprehension of diagnoses and follow up care instructions
  • Lower rates of readmission

Research suggests that Limited-English Proficient (LEP) patients are more likely than English-speaking patients to experience safety events caused by communication errors. The root causes of patient safety events for LEP patients are related to communication and lack of use of qualified medical interpreters.

The cost of professional health care interpretation is significantly less than the negative impact of inadequate communication. Professional health care interpreters are trained to handle interpreting in clinical settings.

In addition to clear interpretation with fewer errors, interpretation performed by trained interpreters are associated with improved comprehension, greater patient satisfaction, better care, compliance, and lower readmission rates.

Medical appointments can be stressful for anyone, and significantly more stressful for a patient with whom there is a language barrier. Using qualified medical interpreters reduces patient stress for LEP patients, and can make the experience less intimidating. It is crucial that LEP patients are able to converse with medical professionals in the language they are familiar with. A dedicated healthcare language services provider will be able to help your facility communicate effectively in any medical situation.


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

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Telelanguage Health Care Interpretation

At Telelanguage, over 70% of our current client base are healthcare entities. We work with health care organizations to improve your language support services while reducing your interpretation costs, and increasing patient satisfaction. Every organization has unique needs. That’s why we tailor our service to your exact requirements. We are committed to providing the best medically trained health care interpreters to improve language access programs across the country.

Telelanguage has been a trusted name in healthcare language services since 1991. As a top provider of medical interpretation and translation services, we believe that all health care organizations should have affordable access to the best-qualified language support. Looking for a more reliable language service provider to help you meet patient needs? Telelanguage can help! Ask us about our Free Service Trial Programs or request a free quote.

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