3 Ways to Evaluate the Efficacy of VRI for Deaf Patients


Video remote interpreting (VRI) can be a controversial subject within Deaf and interpreting communities, especially in medical settings. While some believe VRI does not belong in medical settings, others argue that if used responsibly, it can effectively support communication between providers and their Deaf patients.

The use of VRI has been approved as an effective form of communication in healthcare, which means providers are required to deliver VRI that meets technical standards, ensure staff is trained and able to use the technology and that interpreters are medically qualified and certified. Here are some recommendations to consider in determining whether a VRI program is effective at meeting the needs of Deaf patients.

1) Interpreters Must be Medically Qualified, Trained and Experienced

Specialized interpreters, namely interpreters who are medically trained and experienced, are the bedrock of a high performing VRI implementation. Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires interpreters meet concrete standards and have documented proof of testing that they are qualified to interpret in a healthcare setting. Testing standards include:

  • Adherence to ethical principles, including confidentiality
  • Proficiency in both English and another spoken language
  • Ability to accurately and impartially deploy specialized medical terminology and phrasing as necessary

2) VRI Technology Must Work Properly

Preventing and minimizing technology barriers should begin prior to VRI deployment by testing the healthcare facility network and, if the VRI provider makes any network recommendations, it is essential that the health system consider these updates and integrate the changes before implementation. The VRI device and interpreters may be top notch, but health facilities must ensure they have a network that is strong enough to support the use of VRI.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has weighed in on their technical requirements for VRI: real-time, large screens with full-motion video and audio over a dedicated high-speed, wide bandwidth, video connection or wireless connection that delivers high-quality video images that do not produce lags, choppy, blurry or grainy images, or irregular pauses in communication. 

3) Staff Must be Trained Effectively

Medical professionals and support staff who may not be familiar with the technology or Deaf culture will need education and training with the new language services option, which is one area Certified Deaf Interpreters can play an integral role. Some basic knowledge and understanding can go a long way in reducing the stress and anxiety for patients and build trust between providers and their patients. Providers need to ensure staff are trained properly upon implementation as this is paramount to effective communication with interpreters.

InDemand believes that interpreters should be nationally certified for spoken languages by either the Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters (CCHI) or the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters (NBCMI) as they are on a path to pursuing certification. In addition, all InDemand American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters and Certified Deaf Interpreters (CDIs) are credentialed by the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) and have substantial experience as medical interpreters.

VRI Moving Forward

In the future, video remote technology will continue to be more widely used due to its efficiencies and effectiveness, benefiting. patients and providers in the medical settings by providing greater access to effective communication and, ultimately, better care.

Video Remote Intepreting for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Patients

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