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On-Call or Hire Your Own? Interpretation Services for Health Care Providers

Medical Interpreter with Patient in a Doctor's Office

Healthcare providers in the United States face a growing dilemma. How do they give patients the best care when the patient speaks a different language from the care team? Hiring a full-time interpreter is one option, while on-call interpretation solutions are another consideration. Akorbi delves into the topic of whether healthcare providers should hire on-site interpreters or have on-call interpretation services at the ready. 

Related Post: Interpretation Services in Health Care

Assess the Extent of Your Interpretation Needs

Perhaps the most important factor to consider is how often the healthcare provider requires interpretation services for their patients. If you only require interpretation services three or four times a week at a primary care office, an on-call interpreter may be appropriate. If your urgent care facility serves dozens of patients with limited English proficiency every week, it may be expedient to have on-site interpretation staff.

Assess historical data regarding patient population needs at your facility, and estimate future needs based on trendlines in internal data and local demographics.

Assess the Nature of Your Interpretation Needs

The varied nature of patient language needs should also be considered. Does your data indicate that only one or two languages are needed to meet your multilingual requirements? A skilled on-site interpreter who can work with both of those languages might be optimal. Does your patient population speak a wide variety of languages, and thus you need more than a dozen languages to meet your multilingual requirements? Remote phone interpretation or video interpretation services may be necessary to meet the wide range of needs.

Consider the Unique Needs of Your Practice

Some healthcare providers serve patients with predictable needs. For instance, a primary care office may only serve patients during regular business hours, and the office may seldom see emergency cases. On the other hand, an emergency room is open 24/7, and they handle all sorts of emergency cases that require a larger care team, overnight treatment, and telehealth solutions.

If your healthcare organization has wide-ranging and unique multilingual needs for a diverse patient population, a combination of on-site interpreters and remote interpretation may be needed for comprehensive multilingual communication.

Professional Interpreters

Professional interpreters are much more qualified to deliver interpretation services rather than family members. Family members may have personal agendas or offer unsolicited advice. Untrained interpreters are more likely to have errors, which can lead to poor outcomes for patients.

Qualified, certified interpreters are there just to relay information between the care team and the patient. It’s important that you bring in professional interpreters regardless of whether you decide to hire them in-house or work with an interpretation services company.

It’s the Law

U.S. law, under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, mandates that interpreter services be provided for patients with limited English proficiency who need this service. Certified and qualified interpreters also follow privacy regulations stipulated by HIPAA, Medicaid, and Medicare. Healthcare providers are required to provide interpretation services, whether they’re in-house or through a translation company.

Bottom Line

The bottom line is that healthcare providers must provide interpreters for anyone with a limited knowledge of English. The cost-effectiveness of this service is becoming clear thanks to technology and companies that specialize in this service. 

Akorbi hires only certified interpreters, and you can choose to schedule them or have them on-call at a moment’s notice. Interpreters don’t even necessarily have to be in the room. However, this is the most effective way to interpret for someone because of any missed nonverbal cues or any issues with sound quality from mobile devices. Plus, hiring a company with trained interpreters means you don’t need to pay benefits to extra staff or have to spend extra on staffing for this kind of specialized personnel.

Related Post: Multilingual Services: What Is Telehealth?

Akorbi & Interpretation Services

Look to Akorbi for world-class interpretation services. Our platform, ADAPT powered by Akorbi, lets you schedule an interpreter for a remote or in-person session if you know a particular time and language for a patient. If you’re not sure of when someone will come into your facility, we have on-call interpreters as well. Contact Akorbi or call 1-877-4-AKORBI for more information on our interpretation services.

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