Building Habits – How to Get Your Staff To Always Use an Interpreter

By David Fetterolf, Stratus Video President

The use of qualified medical interpreters to communicate with limited English proficiency patients has been shown time and again to reduce medical errors, helps ensure informed consent, and increase patient satisfaction. But even still, it can be difficult to get healthcare professionals to adopt and continually use a new communication system. Old habits die hard, and in a healthcare environment where stressful and rushed interactions are common, it is easy for staff to revert back to old practices like using ad hoc interpreters to communicate.

In order to get your staff to utilize Stratus Video interpreting, it is important to highlight the value of the product and to reinforce those values with continued training. At a glace, VRI provides the following:

  • It is quick to learn and easy to use.
  • Video interpreters are available
  • The addition of visual cues makes VRI communication much easier and efficient than OPI communication.
  • It saves your institution time and money.
  • It keeps your facility in legal compliance.

Those values are incredibly important, but may not sink in without an emotional hook. People often remember things that they connect with on an emotional level, which is why we always recommend that our clients underscore the larger value of offering professional, medically qualified interpreters to every patient. These values are more likely to pull at the heartstrings:

  • All healthcare providers should aim to offer equal treatment, regardless of the primary language their patient speaks. VRI helps us to achieve that goal.
  • Immediate access to language services puts patients at ease and allows them to focus on what is really important, their health.
  • Immediate, reliable access to language services can also help to reduce provider stress. No more struggling to communicate.
  • VRI eliminates the need for ad hoc interpreters. Using a patient’s family member or friend to interpret is risky, and can be traumatizing and emotionally damaging to both the patient and the ad hoc interpreter.

At Stratus Video, we make it a point to remind ourselves how our services change lives every day. I heard a story just last month that encapsulates the importance of using medically qualified interpreters for every interaction. A Stratus Video interpreter took a call from a mental health facility. The patient was suffering from depression, and in the past, her husband had been used as an ad hoc interpreter. Through the use of Stratus Video remote interpretation, the patient was able to communicate thoughts and feelings that she did not feel comfortable disclosing to her husband, including how it felt when he spoke for her. Without the use of a professional interpreter, that patient would not have received the mental health treatment and support that she needed to live a happy, healthy life.

If you find that your staff continues to rely on ad hoc interpreters, over-the-phone interpreters, or any other form of subpar language access, try sharing the larger values behind VRI, and maybe share a story. The best way to build a habit is to teach someone why that habit is important.

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