Diagnostic Radiologists: Ensuring Effective Communication with Patients through Medically Qualified Interpreters

By David Fetterolf, Stratus Video President

Not many years ago, there was a clear delineation between radiologists and patients. Radiologists reported imaging results directly to referring physicians, and there was not a need for them to communicate directly with a patient. Imaging results are often complex and may require an understanding of anatomy, pathology and physiology, and referring physicians often have long-term relationships with their patients and can provide the context in regards to their overall health history.

However, in the era of patient portals and personal health records, patients now have immediate access to their imaging data and reports. According to Dr. Bulas, a Professor of Radiology at the Children’s National Medical Center, as practices get busier, and there is less time allotted per patient visit, efficiency has become a priority. With this change, patients are interested in any physician who is available to communicate their results to them. A recent study found that patients prioritized their results communicated within a few hours. They did not have a strong preference for which physician communicated the results, but speed was the most important factor.

Engaging Medically Qualified, Professional Interpreters   

As overwhelming and confusing as diagnostic results can be to native English speakers, it’s even worse for patients who are limited English proficient or Deaf. In these scenarios, it’s critical that physicians and radiologists work together with interpreters to share patient results and appropriate next steps in their care plan.  

To ensure communication with interpreters is effective and follows federal regulations, it’s important to confirm that they are medically qualified, professional interpreters. Medical interpreters should have sufficient experience and training and also adhere to a code of ethics to remain unbiased and transparent in their communication. Using professional interpreters satisfies the legal requirements of Section 1557 of the ACA and Title II of the ADA for Deaf patients. Effective communication and facilitation of an accurate medical diagnosis, treatment and care plan has been proven to increase LEP patient outcomes.

Video Remote Interpreting to Increase Patient Outcomes and Efficiency

As many radiologists are increasing their direct communication with patients to share imaging results, leading to higher patient outcomes and satisfaction, these physicians are turning to video remote interpreting (VRI) to better support conversations with LEP, Deaf and hard of hearing patients. Using VRI, radiologists are able to immediately connect with a medically qualified interpreter to facilitate a conversation with patients. The implementation of VRI has simplified language access, enabling physicians to quickly and efficiently communicate results, and then get back to their primary role of reviewing imaging results and analyzing research.

How We can Help

Stratus Video has nationally certified American sign language (ASL) interpreters, certified Deaf interpreters (CDIs) and professional medically trained spoken language interpreters to facilitate effective communication between patients and radiologists to provide the best possible care. To learn more about our interpreters and how we can improve communication throughout your organization, visit: https://www.stratusvideo.com/interpreter-qualifications/.

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