Health Systems Share the Benefits of Immediate Access to Medical Interpreters with Video Remote Interpreting


The September/October issue of Patient Safety Quality Healthcare (PSQH) magazine featured several InDemand clients who are successfully using video remote interpreting (VRI) to improve communication with their limited English proficient (LEP), Deaf and hard or hearing patients. The story includes hospital systems and long-term care facilities across the country implementing VRI to provide immediate access to medical interpreters.

Health Systems Share the Benefits of Immediate Access to Medical Interpreters with Video Remote Interpreting

Patient Safety & Quality Healthcare (PSQH) provides insights and analysis on issues related to healthcare improvement, quality and safety, across all settings. The publication provides detailed updates along with first-hand accounts from healthcare executives who have effectively improved the quality of care at their institutions, while keeping facilities and patients safe.

Providing Immediate Access to Qualified Medical Interpreters with VRI

With more than 25 million people living in the U.S. who are LEP, health systems are grappling with an increasing number of patients who are requiring language assistance when being treated by medical professionals. Baylor Scott & White, Rush Copley, Providence Health & Services and Nashville General Hospital, among many other health facilities nationwide, have adopted VRI to improve communication between their patients and providers. Using VRI, the health facilities are able to immediately connect clinicians with medically qualified interpretersin more than 200 languages, including American Sign Language (ASL), and Certified Deaf Interpreters (CDI).

VRI Leads to Immediate Care, Cost-Savings for Providers

If an on-site interpreter must be called every time there is a patient-provider language barrier, it can require more time and also be costly for a provider to cover an on-site interpreter’s travel and allocated time for an appointment. This can also delay care, particularly during emergencies.

Rosalinda Justiniano, patient advocate/language services coordinator for Rush-Copley Medical shared that hiring contracted, on-site vendors can be very costly for their organization. Typically, these on-site interpreters will require payment regardless of whether a patient shows up for an appointment; this could mean a minimum of two hours of work plus travel time even when an appointment is delayed or cancelled and the use of staff interpreters might create more opportunity for lost time due to intermittent patient needs. However, with VRI, the hospital only pays for the time it is actually using an interpreter.

Remaining Compliant with Medically Qualified Interpreters

Many of the health facilities have selected a VRI vendor to ensure their healthcare facilities are compliant with federal and state language access regulations. InDemand has unparalleled standards when it comes to our interpreters. Many of our interpreters are nationally certified by either the Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters (CCHI) or the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters (NBCMI) or work to become certified within one year of joining our team. Additionally, 100 percent of our American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters are credentialed by the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID), and, on average, have more than 15 years of experience.

“For us, we have peace of mind knowing that InDemand has medically qualified interpreters that we know are solely focused on the medical industry,” she says. “We don’t have to ensure they have the qualifications because they are vetted, trained, and screened by the company. To me there is definitely a cost savings not paying for screening of all the VRI interpreters we use.”

Patients Maintain a Sense of Privacy

Rush-Copley has used VRI for the past two years, and Justiniano says there has been an increase in usage every month since its implementation. It’s important for many patients to feel a sense of privacy in terms of their medical health. They do not have to use a friend or family member or someone from their local community to interpret for them.

“I do rounds on patients where we are using VRI, and the feedback has been incredible and the impact has been felt immediately,” she said. “When patients are able to not only hear an interpreter that speaks their native language, but also see them as well, you can just see this sigh of relief. Patients have the opportunity to maintain their sense of privacy and they don’t have to involve a friend or family member to interpret for them. In the hospital, it’s real-time usage for the patient, regardless of whether or not their family is present.”

Using VRI to Provide Equitable Access to Care 24 Hours/Day

The manager of case management at Nashville General Hospital shared that immediate access to medical interpreters has benefited the mission of their organization to support their communities.

“Our goal is to better serve our limited English proficient, deaf and hard of hearing patients, which is why we adopted video remote and over-the-phone interpreting services,” said Lilia Medina, manager of case management at Nashville General Hospital, in a published report. “Adoption of this new language access program enables us to continue to fulfill our mission to improve the health and wellness of Nashville by providing equitable access to coordinated patient-centered care and reinforces Nashville General Hospital as a leader in exceptional community healthcare ‘one neighbor at a time.”

Justiniano agrees with the benefits of using VRI to provide equitable access to all patients.

“Using VRI provides tremendous benefits, especially living where we do in a metropolitan area in Illinois where 25% of our patient population is Spanish-speaking,” said Justiniano, patient advocate/language services coordinator for Rush-Copley Medical Center in Aurora, Illinois. “With VRI, we have access to all of our top languages 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The need for language services and the potential to use the service is always there. They are always available. Having a secondary resource available at all times is very helpful.”

Access to ASL ANDCDI Interpreters

Justiniano says her facility uses its VRI service along with an on-site interpreter in some cases, as the service includes ASL and CDI, which she says is a tremendous benefit. She says there have been patient encounters where the services of both a CDI interpreter and a Spanish interpreter were needed.

“I had an interpreter show up for an appointment who said she was a Spanish interpreter, but we needed an ASL interpreter, so the Spanish interpreter grabbed the VRI device to immediately connect the patient with an ASL interpreter,” she adds. “He almost cried because he was used to using his cell phone to interpret for him. He was so grateful that he was able to use a hands-free method of communication. Clinicians are also free to perform assessments using the VRI device and are not distracted by having to hold something up to interpret for the patient and provider.”

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