Employed Interpreters Ensure Delivery of Consistent, High Quality Services

By Kat Jackson, VP of Language Operations

Todays’ fast paced and abundant requests for language services require healthcare providers to have access to quick, effective solutions. Video remote interpretation (VRI) provides direct, immediate access to qualified medical interpreters in a wide variety of languages over HIPAA compliant video connections. Its ease of use and mobility greatly widen the use of language services in healthcare, improving health equity for limited English proficient (LEP) patients. American Sign Language (ASL) and Certified Deaf Interpreters are also available to facilitate communication for Deaf or Hard of Hearing (HoH) patients who need an immediate solution and cannot wait for an onsite interpreter to arrive. Languages of lesser diffusion that are not available over video automatically route to qualified medical interpreters who deliver language services over-the-phone. Modern day technologies help facilitate the provision of medical interpretation in several modalities. But how do hospitals ensure remote interpreters are qualified?

Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act calls for the use of a qualified interpreter versus just simply a competent one. What exactly deems an interpreter qualified? Interpreters validate their qualifications through training and testing organizations.  In some languages there are certifying bodies that offer medical interpreting certifications to demonstrate that an interpreter is qualified in his or her language pair. Other, less common languages do not offer certifications. For these languages, interpreter qualifications are verified through various testing and performance measures.

Qualified medical interpreters possess and demonstrate the following attributes:

  • Language proficiency in both the source and target languages

  • Ability to interpret effectively, accurately & impartially

  • Use of necessary specialized vocabulary, terminology and phraseology

In addition to the above, qualified interpreters are bound by a professional code of ethics and values. These values include a commitment to beneficence, fidelity and cultural brokering.

Beneficence ~

Like other healthcare professionals, medical interpreters are obligated to support the health and well-being of the patient and his or her support system. This includes ethical codes of conduct, e.g., maintaining client confidentiality.

Fidelity ~

Qualified interpreters must remain faithful to the original message as they convey meaning from the source to target language without adding to, omitting from, or distorting the original message.

Cultural Brokering ~

Qualified interpreters are equipped to quickly determine when a cultural difference is impacting patient-provider communication and act accordingly.

Interpreters who are employed by language service providers undergo extensive testing, training and ongoing professional development. Language operations managers review interpreter performance, providing additional training as needed to ensure interpreter qualifications and adherence to the professional interpreter code of ethics are met. By relying on language service providers that employ their interpreters, healthcare facilities can feel confident that the interpreters they communicate with have received testing, training and undergo regular quality reviews.  

Healthcare facilities reap several benefits when the language services vendor they use employs their interpreters:

  • High interpreter performance standards

  • Consistent & in-depth training

  • Better patient satisfaction with language services

  • Secure, reliable equipment and platform provided by the language service provider

High Interpreter Standards & Ongoing Training

When interpreters are employed, they are required to fulfill qualifications which are then verified by language operations managers. This helps ensure interpreters hold the required knowledge and experience to effectively facilitate LEP patient-provider communication. Employed interpreters are also managed by a team of language interpreting professionals who continually consult and coach for optimal performance. By ensuring interpreters meet high standards, language service providers help improve the quality of language services in hospitals.

Stratus Video interpreters, for example, are given a comprehensive bilingual proficiency assessment designed to test the candidate’s oral language skills in English and the non-English language. The assessment also includes knowledge of medical terminology and the ability to accurately transfer meaning back and forth between the two languages. Once hired, Stratus Video requires the successful completion of a comprehensive training course with a follow-up assessment.

To ensure our interpreters are properly prepared to provide quality communication assistance, we have also implemented a stringent list of minimum requirements and qualifications.

Our ASL interpreters are compliant with any state licensing requirements and must hold one of the following certifications: NIC, NIC Advanced or Master; RID CI, CT, CI/CT, CSC; NAD Level IV or V, ACCI Level IV or V; Texas BEI-3 or higher, have a minimum of three years of interpreting experience as well as an extensive working knowledge of professional interpretation, ADA requirements and Deaf Culture.

Spoken Language interpreters must hold a CHI or CMI national certification endorsed by the NCHI or NBCMI, respectively, or provide proof of medical interpreter experience, meet or exceed all Joint Commission interpreter qualification requirements, and remain in compliance with the Affordable Care Act Section 1557, have at least three years interpreting experience and extensive working knowledge of the Interpreting Code of Professional Conduct.

Better Patient Satisfaction

By holding employed interpreters to higher standards, language service providers help hospitals ensure the provision of high-quality medical interpretation for LEP, Deaf and HoH patients. This is significant, as both patient satisfaction and outcome have been shown to improve with the use of a qualified medical interpreter.

Customer satisfaction is the over-riding metric by which all Stratus Video interpreters are measured. Frequent quality checks are conducted and identified issues are addressed immediately. Credential audits are conducted on a regular basis. This helps ensure language services are consistently delivered effectively and professionally, a vital component of any language access plan. Customer satisfaction metrics provided by language service employers help hospitals identify areas to better engage with LEP patients.

More Reliable Equipment & Connectivity

Ongoing training provided by the employer includes the use of the video remote interpretation platform and equipment, an essential skill for assisting providers who are new to using VRI. Interpreters, who are employed by language service providers, have ready access to reliable equipment (computer, headset, charging cables and more) and are held to dedicated high internet connectivity standards. Verification of requirements beforehand helps ensure a reliable connection for both video remote and over-the-phone interpreters using the VRI platform. A more reliable connection and secure equipment means a better patient experience for your LEP patients.

With the need for language access on the rise throughout the United States, hospitals are turning more and more to remote interpreting solutions. When comparing options, be sure to check interpreter qualifications as well as any training the agency provides.

General rule of thumb: Interpreters who are employed by a language service provider are extensively trained and have proven fulfillment of stringent requirements.

To learn more about the importance of using a qualified interpreter versus just simply a competent one, watch this educational webinar presented by medical interpreter and language operations manager Betlem Nogue-Bonet.

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