Interpreters in Healthcare – Overcoming Language Barriers

view of both doctors and patients hands as they have a conversation

Language Barriers in Healthcare: Akorbi Interpreters Can Help

In a world where language barriers seem to be receding, there are still situations where a lack of multilingual services can cause problems for non-native speakers. When it comes to understanding their own healthcare, more and more non-native speakers are encountering difficulties. They often end up leaning on family members or health care professionals for interpretation services that should be reserved for qualified translators and interpreters. In today’s blog, Akorbi discusses common challenges faced by non-native speaking patients, interpreters, and professionals in the healthcare setting.

Leaning on Loved Ones

It’s an unfortunate truth that in urban areas with lots of language diversity, important on-site team members are often understaffed and overworked. This leaves non-native speakers prone to lean on bilingual loved ones for interpreting important health information.

When the staff interpreter is unavailable, and a family member is called to translate, issues often arise. In many cases, young children must be the ones to interpret difficult news to their parent or guardian. In any situation where a friend or family member is tasked with interpreting complicated health information, there is a serious risk of misinterpretation or confusion. Issues such as patient confidentiality and conflicts of interests are also a serious concern. Family and friends shouldn’t have to be the ones to tell you delicate information regarding your health. Even though a lack of multilingual services can cause serious problems, in many medical settings a qualified interpreter is not available.

Staffing for Solutions

So how do medical institutions combat this issue? According to newly mandated rules set by the Affordable Care Act in 2016, medical facilities are required to offer a “qualified” interpreter to patients with limited English proficiency, rather than simply a “competent” one. This sets forth new restrictions on who can and cannot provide translation and interpretation services, protecting the patient and administration. Along with on-site interpreters,these qualified services can be in the form of on-site video-remote services or over-the-phone interpretation as well.  

Professional, qualified interpreters may pose a challenge for smaller healthcare facilities or facilities that treat a large multilingual population. Staffing enough qualified, on-site interpreters may not be feasible. This is why over-the-phone and video-remote services are an excellent option, and allow certified interpreters to reach all in need. This decreases the risk of error and ensures clear, effective treatment for all.

Akorbi Can Help

It is an unfortunate truth that half of non-native speaking residents have encountered a communication barrier in their healthcare. To address this problem, more and more healthcare organizations are relying on businesses like Akorbi to provide staffing solutions. When professional, multilingual interpreters can clearly communicate the complexities of healthcare, patient risks and healthcare costs are reduced. Contact Akorbi today for more information on how we can help.

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