VRI Allows for the Interpretation of Nonverbal Cues

By David Fetterolf, Stratus Video President

Communication experts agree nonverbal communication makes up a considerable portion of how we convey meaning to one another each and every day. Facial expressions, postures, hand movements and even tone of voice all carry meaning in addition to the spoken word. The visual nature of video remote interpretation (VRI) allows interpreters to take into account nonverbal forms of communication.

In healthcare environments, nonverbal communication can be key to a proper diagnosis. For example, when asked the degree of pain a patient is feeling, he or she may say “no to little pain” but with a severe grimace, one that indicates the patient may be feeling more pain than verbally reported. Nonverbal cues that signify misunderstanding are also essential in healthcare. For follow up care plans to be effective and proper medication management to take place, patients must have meaningful understanding of their healthcare information. This is particularly true for limited English proficient, Deaf and Hard of Hearing patients that require the assistance of language services.

Medical interpreters work as a bridge to ensure both parties understand one another. As ambassadors of cultural competency, medical interpreters are trained to pick up on any misunderstandings that take place as a result of a difference in language or cultural background and clarify them. When there is a difference in a healthcare program or the patient is not familiar with medical terminology, even in his or her preferred language, the interpreter may need to define certain terms or explain differences in how one healthcare program may function in the United States versus the patient’s country of origin. For medical interpreters to pick up on telling visual cues, a furrowed brow, for example, they must be able to see both the patient and the provider.  

VRI combines the benefits of face-to-face interpretation with the on-demand nature of over-the-phone interpretation. The video component allows interpreters to see both patients and providers, their facial expressions and gestures. VRI includes both American Sign Language & Certified Deaf Interpreter services, so healthcare providers can facilitate effective communication with Deaf and Hard of Hearing patients. If the patient prefers the presence of an onsite interpreter, VRI can be utilized, so as not to delay the delivery of care, until an in-person interpreter arrives.

Learn more about VRI and how it can make the provision of language services more efficient at your facility in our eBook: A Guide to Staff and Contract Interpreter Management – Expert Insights from the Field.

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