Interpreters Help Patients and Healthcare Providers Communicate Without Barriers

Limited English proficiency is a growing challenge in America’s healthcare facilities. Professional interpreting services can bridge this gap. What does it take to assist patients, their families, caregivers, and other professionals?

Understanding the Scope of the Problem and the Need for Professional Interpreting Services

What happens if a healthcare facility receives a request for care from a non-English-speaking patient? Although often family members or friends can provide some assistance with translation and interpretation, it is not possible to take this help for granted. Cases in point are travelers who are on their own. When needing emergency medical help, they frequently face an almost insurmountable language barrier.

From the point of view of the individual, missing interpreter services create a variety of problems.

Medical history. Discharge instructions. Continuum of care.

  • Medical history. A patient may not be able to communicate adequately about past medical procedures or chronic diseases. Failure to do so can adversely affect care.
  • Discharge instructions. Medical facilities typically print discharge instructions. Smaller offices provide them verbally. The problem arises when the patient fails to understand some or all of the directions, which may include medication dosages.
  • Continuum of care. Depending on the condition for which the individual seeks treatment, there may be aftercare available. However, when there are no professional interpreting services to explain the details, a patient may not make use of it.

That said, the medical services provider also faces a significant problem without access to professional interpreting services.

Invalid consent forms. Possible liability concerns. Payment problems.

  • Invalid consent forms. Informed consent requires the patient to understand what s/he is signing. When there is a language barrier, the consent may be invalid.
  • Possible liability concerns. Negative patient outcomes can raise questions of liability. This fear may prevent some healthcare providers from serving non-English-speaking demographics.
  • Payment problems. Because the office staff may not be able to get the information about insurance carriers, medical facilities face payment discrepancies.

How Professional Interpreting Services Make a Difference

Healthcare facilities have the opportunity to utilize a variety of media to meet their patients and staff members’ communication needs. Case in point is the hospital pharmacy that allows for telephonic interpreting services. The last time you were at this type of venue, you might have seen the printed notice on the counter.

It encourages customers to point to their native language when they need help with translations. The pharmacist then dials the number to one or more professional interpreting services. These experts then join a three-way call that allows pharmacist and customer to interact via telephone translation.

Larger facilities have interpreters and translators on staff. Case in point is the Spanish interpreter, who assists with face-to-face interactions. A Chinese translator can help patients understand the documents the medical facility needs them to sign. Of course, these are the most in-demand languages.

Excellent professional interpreting services also offer help from interpreters and translators in less popular languages. Examples might include a French translation or Japanese translation expert. Because there is so much demand for a good-quality Spanish interpreter now, plenty of professional interpreting services offer this program. But only the best service providers extend access to the language pairings that might be in less demand.

How Professional Interpreting Services Meet the Demand

In the past, a medical facility might hire an employee who was bilingual. For smaller offices, this is frequently still the case. Typically, the bilingual employee knows Spanish and can handle the needed translation. But in larger settings, this practice proves to be insufficient.

Professional interpreting services stand in the gap. These companies work with translators and interpreters who have proficiency in a variety of language pairings. Moreover, they have received training in medical interpreting, which requires a solid understanding of terminology and phrasing. These interpreters also have experience in the field, which makes them confident in their roles.

This confidence, in turn, trickles down to the patient and physician they are working with. The high quality of the product results in a positive interaction that may very well lead to a boost in patient satisfaction.

Of course, these services are not just reserved for the immediate healthcare needs of patients. Frequently, they also make a difference in commercial interactions that include the purchase of insurance products. Finding out more about the best professional interpreting services for medical providers is as simple as a quick call or message.