Hospitals Open Telehealth Services to LEP Patients with VRI Interoperability

By David Fetterolf, Stratus Video President          

Telehealth provides many benefits for patients. Mental health sessions can be carried out from the comfort of the patient’s home. Patients with chronic conditions have been shown to more effectively adhere to their disease management programs when able to consult with their providers over video. Patients located in areas with shortages of specialists can access them virtually without having to drive long distances. Patients who are unsure whether symptoms warrant a visit to the emergency room or an urgent care facility can consult with providers over video. This both relieves stress for the patient and reduces the amount of unnecessary visits to the ER for hospitals. By avoiding unnecessary trips to the ER, emergency departments can improve efficiencies in terms of timeliness and delivery of services.

But what about patients who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing or Limited English Proficient (LEP)? How can these patients access telehealth services and the many benefits they provide?

It is well established that LEP patients experience more difficulties and barriers in care due to miscommunication than English speaking patients, often times resulting in poor delivery of care and outcome. In response, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has compiled a guide for hospitals to “better identify, report, monitor, and prevent medical errors in patients with LEP” titled Improving Patient Safety Systems for Patients With Limited English Proficiency. The guide’s number one recommendation to eliminate disparities in care is to “foster a supportive culture”. Hospitals can foster a supportive culture by taking strategic steps to improve health equity for LEP patients.

To achieve health equity, healthcare facilities must ensure all programs are accessible to all patients. This includes making sure that any patients who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing or Limited English Proficient have the same level of access to telehealth programs as English-speaking patients. For these patients to reap the same benefits from telehealth sessions as English-speaking patients, they must have access to a qualified, medical interpreter. Thanks to recently developed app interoperabilities, healthcare providers can now add video remote interpreters to telehealth sessions with just a few presses of a button.

Providers are taking a significant step towards achieving health equity by taking advantage of this app interoperability. Read how a health system serving more than 200,000 LEP patients per year is using the solution to make telehealth services available to LEP patients in this recent announcement.

To learn more, watch this webinar recording hosted by Novant Health. You will get an insider look into the health system's language services philosophy, their pathway to including LEP patients in telehealth sessions and their results so far.

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