Why Hospitals Embrace VRI

By David Fetterolf, Stratus Video President

Video Remote Interpretation (VRI), connects medical professionals to trained and experienced medical interpreters in dozens of languages, on demand. Prior to the implementation of VRI, the majority of hospitals and health systems relied on a combination of over-the-phone (OPI) and onsite interpreters. OPI follows the same model of VRI, but without the visual connection that video offers. Onsite interpretation offers a fantastic connection between the limited English proficiency patient and their interpreter, but can be challenging to schedule, is more expensive, and is not a good option in an emergency since interpreter travel time must be considered.

VRI marries the visual benefits of onsite interpretation with the on-demand nature of OPI, making it an ideal solution for many hospitals across the United States. If an injured patient walks into the ER rapidly speaking Mandarin, healthcare professionals can now grab an iPad and in under a minute, be on a video call with a medically qualified interpreter who can help them communicate. But even beyond the obvious benefits that visual, on-demand interpretation offers, VRI can actually help language services departments to save money and improve patient satisfaction.

Carolina’s Healthcare System (now Atrium Health) reported $1.5 million in annual savings when they transitioned contract interpreter use to VRI use. You can read the entire case study on that implementation here. In contrast, Southcoast Health tracked per-minute savings rather than annual savings. They discovered that while OPI minute rates were lower than VRI minute rates, on average, OPI calls were more than twice as long as VRI calls, ultimately making OPI calls more expensive. Read that case study here. Carle Foundation hospital tracked patient satisfaction following the implementation of VRI, and found that the rate of their “extremely satisfied” limited English proficiency patients rose by 15%. Read the full case study here.

So why have hospitals embraced VRI? VRI is easy to use, good in an emergency, helps hospitals and health systems to save money, and improves patient satisfaction. It is a win for everyone involved.

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