Top Five Considerations When Selecting a Video Remote Interpreting Partner for Healthcare


This is the first blog in a series where we will explore excellence in video remote interpreting and what to consider when selecting a language services partner.

Your healthcare organization may be considering video remote interpreting (VRI) to increase language access, improve compliance with regulations, enhance patient experience, to improve clinical efficiency and/or facilitate better outcomes. With the risk of increasing liability for healthcare organizations, it is essential that patients clearly understand such things as their condition, treatment plan, medication needs and discharge instructions.According to recent research, limited English proficient (LEP) patients are twice as likely to suffer adverse medical events as English-speaking patients and the average length of stay for LEP patients is 0.75 to 1.47 days longer than English-speaking patients if these individuals are not provided with a qualified interpreter. In addition, 30-day re-admission rates are significantly higher for LEP patients.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) links quality to payments, mandating a pay-for-performance model of reimbursement based on a set of clinical quality measures as well as the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) patient experience survey. This program rewards acute-care hospitals with incentive payments for providing quality care to Medicare beneficiaries and penalizes organizations that perform poorly. When payment is determined by patient satisfaction and compliance combined with clinical quality measures, both the patient experience and standardization of care are critically important. Because communication is the key to the patient experience and intimately tied to health outcomes, access to medically qualified interpreters is an integral part of a successful VRI program whenever caring for LEP, Deaf or hard of hearing (HOH) patients.

Yet, selecting the right VRI partner can still be daunting because of the many factors that ultimately impact the quality and reliability of the interpreting service. We’ve compiled a list of the most important elements to consider when selecting a VRI solution to complement a language services program. Future blogs will delve into each of these in greater detail. Read more about how we can help with your language access program here.

1) Quality of Interpreters. One of the most important considerations when selecting a provider is to understand the quality of the interpreters who will be supporting the clinician/patient encounter. Interpreters are the bedrock of a VRI program; all quality language access programs start with a foundation of excellent interpreters. To ensure your VRI interpreters are providing the highest quality service, it’s important to consider several aspects including their testing, training, compliance with federal and state regulations regarding qualifications, certifications, professional development and continuing education opportunities.

2) Suitability of Equipment. The equipment used to access a VRI service can be critical to the overall delivery of effective communication with LEP, Deaf and HOH patients, as it directly impacts everything from overall communication quality to the patient/provider experience. Important equipment-related considerations when selecting the right VRI solution include; 1) device/cart configuration options available for different care settings; 2) the ease of interoperability (or integration) of the VRI application with other applications that involve patient communication (e.g. telehealth, bedside media); or 3) use of the VRI application on other devices used by clinicians as part of their routine clinical workflow. Additionally, VRI capabilities such as the scanning of the patient data directly into the VRI application from the patient’s ID bracelet as well as dual handset/headsets, privacy screens and gender selections that enhance the patient experience are important considerations to keep in mind. No charge equipment and/or low cost per minute plans should be carefully evaluated against other more tailored and integrated options when considering how to best meet the ultimate goals of a quality language access program to increase compliance, improve clinical efficiencies and favorably impact outcomes while controlling cost.

3) Ease of Use. In addition to effective technology to support your organization across the care continuum, it should be easy to access interpreters. This supports early adoption (and ongoing use) of the language access program. With a "one touch" application, there is an increasing likelihood that clinical staff will readily utilize the VRI service if they have positive experiences and are able to immediately connect with interpreters.

4) Features. Considering features of a VRI application that are right for your organization is important to gain adoption/acceptance among your clinical staff. Stated another way, it is important to select a VRI solution that offers features and functions that satisfy the needs of your providers and their patients.  

5) Support. A complete support structure, including a dedicated client service manager, network assessment engineers and 24/7 technical support are vital elements of any quality VRI solution. These additional resources are proven to directly impact the success of a VRI language services program. Together this team should partner with you to design a customized solution and implement a plan to support adoption, train staff and provide 24-hour support seven days/week every single day of the year.

How we can help

InDemand welcomes the opportunity to share more about how we can support your needs with a language access program. Our services are currently being used in over 2,000 care settings across nearly 400 clients in 42 states throughout the country to eliminate communication barriers between clinicians and their LEP, Deaf and HOH patients. In our next blog of this series, we take a deeper diver into key considerations for quality interpretation.

 Learn more about how we can help you strengthen communication between providers and your limited English proficient, Deaf and hard of hearing patients across the care continuum

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