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A Shifting Language Services Landscape

Language-Services Cost Drivers for hospitals

Healthcare providers are required to provide effective communication between patients and providers. Sometimes, that means providing interpreters. As our population grows more diverse, the need for spoken language as well as sign language interpreters has increased, and language interpretation services have experienced tremendous growth.

Historically, healthcare providers relied on in-person, face-to-face interpreters when providers were not fluent in a patient’s native language. But in many instances, there are issues associated with in-person interpretation including the time it takes to get an interpreter and the associated costs.

Newer, tech-based solutions have emerged and are beginning to gain traction. Over the Phone Interpreting (OPI), and Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) are on the rise, and they solve many of the cost issues traditional, in-person interpretation poses.

Interpretation via technology also offers:

  • Near-immediate connection to an interpreter.
  • The ability to ease the concerns of patients who may have cultural, religious or other sensitivities to having other people present in the room.

In spite of their many advantages, there are instances when interpretation is best done in-person. For example, during labor and delivery, it may be more effective to have an in-person interpreter rather than someone online or on the phone.

Additionally, since much of communication is non-verbal (gestures, facial expression, etc.), the quality of OPI interpretation is diminished. By contrast, VRI interpreters are able to maintain this element of communication. VRI also enables sign language interpretation for deaf and hard of hearing patients.

Health systems and their patients would benefit from having a variety of interpretation options available to best fit their needs at any given time. With these emerging technologies, it can be cost-effective to provide these essential services.

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