Simplified Interpreter Scheduling Yields Greater Efficiencies for Hospitals

By David Fetterolf, Stratus Video President

When healthcare providers have access to various language access tools, sometimes the hardest part is deciding which type of interpretation to use. Hospitals can greatly improve efficiencies when it comes to providing language access by having a plan in place and training healthcare staff on which type of interpretation to use and how to use it.

The American Family Physician provides an excellent resource for providers on the appropriate use of medical interpreters. The guide includes key recommendations for practice, tips for using a medical interpreter and common pitfalls by way of the provider. The use of an untrained interpreter is cited as the most common pitfall, as this can lead to detrimental impact on patient outcome. To ensure interpreters are qualified, the guide recommends providers check interpreter education, certification and experience.

While VRI and OPI are great ways to facilitate communication with LEP patients, there are circumstances in the healthcare environment when the presence of an onsite interpreter is needed. It is recommended to use an onsite or over-the-phone interpreter when a patient has physical impairments that make viewing a VRI device difficult. An onsite interpreter is also recommended when a patient has cognitive limitations or is participating in large group sessions. When possible, it is helpful to have an onsite interpreter when the patient is receiving “bad news” such as a terminal or life changing diagnosis. In urgent situations, time is of the essence. Download our LEP decision tree for a quick, go-to-guide on when to use a video remote interpreter versus an onsite or over-the-phone interpreter.

When patients request onsite interpretation for less common languages, it can be difficult for providers to find a qualified, medical interpreter in the language needed in a timely manner, particularly in rural areas where qualified language interpreters are few and far between.

With Stratus InPerson, hospitals can send out requests to qualified interpreters in the surrounding area from a mobile app. Similar to Uber, the provider can see which interpreters are available, along with their credentials. Once the interpreter accepts a job, the provider can even track the interpreter’s progress as he or she makes their way to the facility. All interpreters have been pre-vetted by Stratus Video, so providers can rest assured they are qualified. The improved visibility provided by the scheduling app has also been shown to improve language department efficiencies and drive down cost.

Use case: A not-for-profit hospital located in Houston, TX, implemented Stratus InPerson to better serve its rising LEP patient population, particularly Spanish speaking patients. Post implementation, the facility has significantly improved the availability of onsite Spanish interpreters, all while reducing spend per hour on interpretation services. Download the client case study to learn more.

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