Video Tops Audio for Interpreters & Providers Alike
By David Fetterolf, Stratus Video President
If over-the-phone interpretation (OPI) is a flip phone, video remote interpretation (VRI) is a smartphone. Flip phones work just fine for calling point to point and sending simple text messages, but with a smartphone, you can do so much more. Asking a patient or provider who uses VRI to switch back to OPI would be like asking someone to hand in their iPhone for a Motorola Razr. Would you be willing to trade your smartphone in for a flip phone? We didn’t think so.
VRI is as innovative and convenient as a smartphone, enabling face to face communication between a non-English speaking or limited English speaking (LEP) patient and his or her provider with just the press of a button. VRI offers additional benefits that are simply unobtainable over audio.
The visual components of VRI help ensure accuracy and meaningful access for both patient and provider.
The visual components included in VRI enable the interpreter to gather and convey additional meaning derived from non-verbal cues. A head nod, grimace or aversion of the eyes can help the interpreter convey a more accurate and complete depiction of the conversation at hand.
Some medical terms and programs function differently in other countries than in the United States. The interpreter can more easily identify and resolve any confusion that may arise from cultural differences when visual cues are present. These elements are lost in OPI, as the interpreter cannot see the patient or provider and vice versa.
VRI is easy to use and widely accessible.
When compared to simply pressing a button for VRI, the process of using OPI can be as arduous as texting on a flip phone. The provider dials a number on the phone, an operator answers and then connects the provider to an interpreter in the language requested. The lack of visual cues makes it more difficult for the interpreter to anticipate when the patient and/or provider is finished speaking.
Due to the less convenient nature of the call, OPI sessions usually take longer than VRI sessions, often resulting in higher cost and lower patient satisfaction. View evidence of that in this case study from Stratus Video client, Southcoast Health. OPI is best suited for simple exchanges that do not require the aid of visual cues, like appointment settings and simple follow-ups.
Video interpreters, on the other hand, can be accessed, on average, in just 30 seconds. In addition to being readily available, VRI is widely accessible, as it can be used on any tablet, smartphone, desktop, or laptop over Wi-Fi or 4G. The ease of use and wide accessibility of VRI makes it an ideal solution for healthcare conversations requiring visible cues of great immediacy, such as in the emergency department.
VRI offers additional features.
VRI offers more capabilities than OPI. The whiteboard feature, for instance, enables the interpreter to type and display words on screen for further written clarification. This is particularly helpful to ensure enhanced understanding of long, complex, or industry specific terms, medical jargon and prescription instructions.
Both American Sign Language (ASL) and Certified Deaf Interpreters (CDI) can be accessed over VRI. This is a great alternative to have on hand when onsite ASL and/or CDI interpreters are not readily available.
Some VRI solutions can be integrated into existing telehealth solutions to support virtual encounters with LEP patients. Learn more about the interoperability capabilities of VRI and telehealth here.
Studies reveal that patients, providers and interpreters alike prefer using video over audio. This comparative study published by the National Institutes of Health reveals that both interpreters and providers prefer using video remote interpretation over phone interpretation as a remote method. That being said, each mode of interpretation has a vital place in healthcare. The most comprehensive language access plans use a combination of VRI, OPI and onsite interpretation with ongoing staff training as to how and when to use each mode. Learn more in this educational webinar “Numbers Don’t Lie: Why VRI Is A Strong Solution”.