The 3 Most Common Mistakes Healthcare Providers Make with Video Remote Interpretation

By Kathryn Jackson, Stratus Video VP of Language Operations

Video remote interpretation (VRI) has taken the healthcare industry by storm. Just a few years ago, VRI was a new and emerging technology. Today, Stratus Video devices are in thousands of hospitals. Interpreters are called constantly to help communicate with limited English proficient (LEP) patients across the nation.

It is no wonder that VRI has become so popular, as it combines the on-demand nature of phone interpretation with the visual benefits of face-to-face interpretation. But with every emerging technology, there are challenges. Training staff on how to properly use video remote interpretation is absolutely vital, and re-training staff is even more important. New habits take time and reinforcement to form. Your facility may have a longstanding relationship with VRI, but that doesn’t mean that your staff is always utilizing it in the most efficient and beneficial way. Below are the three most common mistakes Stratus Video interpreters experience, and tips on how to train your staff to avoid them.

1. Speaking in the third person

It feels unnatural, but it is important for healthcare providers to speak directly to their patients in the first person and the patient do the same. Video interpreters will interpret as if they are not part of the conversation. Having to constantly interpret “Please tell my patient so-and-so” is not only mentally taxing, it also puts up a wall between the patient and provider. Interpreters are there to facilitate a connection, the rapport necessary to build trust. It is important for providers to address their patients directly, and to rely on Stratus Video interpreters to convey their message accurately and impartially.

Training Tip: The next time you give an in-service on VRI, try choosing an audience member and asking them to repeat everything you say, i.e. “please tell everyone here that you need to push a button to reach an interpreter.” A demonstration of what not to do is a humorous way to convey the point.

2. Skipping the introduction

When a video remote interpreter takes a session, they have no idea the situation they are walking into nor the context of the discussion. From their remote workstations, they can be connected to a pediatric hospital, an outpatient facility, and a diagnosis discussion within a matter of hours, often with little to no downtime in between. It is important for the provider to allow a few moments pre-session to orient their interpreter on the goals of the session. Just a brief “Hello, I am calling from the oncology unit and I need your help communicating with Mrs. Gomez about her breast cancer treatment” goes a long way in helping the interpreter match the mood and intent of the provider.

Training Tip: Try giving the VRI device a nickname. If your staff thinks of the Stratus Video stand as another team-member on the healthcare team, they are more likely to remember to introduce the device, and thus the interpreter, to the patient and the session.

3. Standing in the wrong place

Interpretation works best when the patient can see the interpreter and the provider in one field of vision. Providers should stand directly behind or just alongside Stratus Video devices, so that their patient may see everyone without having to turn their heads. Many providers stand off to the side as if to include the interpreter in a three-way conversation, thus making it more difficult for their patient to keep an eye on the interpreter and the provider.

Training Tip: Simple mnemonic device: “Be Kind, Stand Behind”.

These mistakes are common but fixable! As with any new technology, it takes practice. It is important to consistently re-train and remind your staff how to use VRI effectively; your healthcare interactions with VRI will be much more successful.

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