Smartphones Widen the Use of VRI

By David Fetterolf, Stratus Video President

Smartphones greatly widen the reach of VRI. The key is convenience. Every provider can offer patients direct access to a qualified medical interpreter in a wide variety of languages over secure, HIPAA compliant video directly from their smartphone.

Why VRI on Smartphones Is Significant

Effective communication is paramount in healthcare, correlated with improved patient care and outcome. When a patient does not speak English or is LEP, effective patient-provider communication cannot take place without the assistance of a qualified medical interpreter.

VRI is an essential tool in healthcare, particularly with the recent rise in limited English proficiency (LEP) patient encounters and number of languages requested. Smartphones greatly extend its reach, ensuring a larger percentage of this patient population has access to the tools they need to effectively communicate with providers.

Increased access to language services is significant. With VRI loaded on provider smartphones, essentially every provider has an interpreter within reach at all times. This helps achieve health equity, ensuring all patients have meaningful access to healthcare information at all points of care. Just imagine the many healthcare situations where this tool can make an impact. New, walk-in patients, for example, with no patient information on record, including their preferred language, can have immediate access to language services. With the VRI app loaded on a provider’s smartphone, he or she can simply launch the app and select the language needed. Within moments, a qualified medical interpreter will answer the video call. The app provides access to a wide range of spoken language, American Sign Language and Certified Deaf interpreters.  

A study conducted by researchers at the University of California San Francisco revealed more than sixty percent of hospitals in the United States encounter LEP patients on a daily or weekly basis. In addition to more frequent encounters, hospitals are seeing a rise in requests for languages of lesser diffusion. Shifts in immigration patterns and significant growth has made identifying patient populations all the more challenging.

Higher utilization of language services means that a larger percentage of the patient population is receiving the tools they need to meaningfully understand their healthcare information. To ensure all LEP patients have access to the required services, providers are utilizing innovative technologies to help expand their reach.

Hospitals who provide healthcare providers with smartphones can easily expand the reach of language services by downloading VRI on provider smartphones.

VRI on smartphones helps providers:

  • Ensure all LEP, Deaf & Hard of Hearing (HoH) patients have quick access to a qualified medical interpreter

  • Increase LEP patient utilization of language services

  • Boost LEP patient satisfaction

  • Improve language department efficiencies

  • Comply with federal regulations surrounding language access in healthcare

  • Decrease interpreter wait times

  • Reduce use of untrained interpreters (family members & untrained bilingual staff)

  • Raise level of LEP patient care

Take for instance this recent Stratus Video client use case:

A large health system recently began loading the VRI app onto provider smartphones. Post implementation, the system saw a significant growth in interpretation minutes. Over a span of six months, the use of VRI on smartphones rose at great speed.

When the Stratus Video smartphone app was released at the facility in January of 2019, only 4% of their minutes were processed over smartphones, and the rest were handled by iPads. By June of 2019, 56% of the minutes were processed on smartphones. Over a six-month period, there was an increase in overall VRI minutes processed at this facility, along with an increase in smartphone VRI minutes processed by this facility. This demonstrates that smartphones help increase utilization of language services, meaning more patients in need of language services are receiving them.

VRI combines the benefits of face-to-face interpretation with the on-demand nature of telephonic interpretation. VRI is an effective solution for language barriers because it is instant, mobile and cost-effective. As the industry leader in VRI, Stratus Video interpreters are available around the clock, are medically qualified and have an average connection time of 30 seconds. Click here to learn more about our interpreter qualifications.

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