Coronavirus: How Video Remote Interpreting Improves Multicultural Patient Care

Multicultural Patient Care and COVID-19

The explosion of Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases has left medical professionals scrambling to treat the sick while begging the public to “flatten the curve”. Yet misinformation about how to do so is abound. Even the fact-checking website Snopes is unable to keep up.

Lack of accurate information and access to care puts everyone at risk. And that’s especially true for communities with large Limited English Populations (LEPs), where language barriers impact multicultural patient care. Fortunately, Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) can help.


Benefits of Video Remote Interpreting

Although in-person interpreting is often the best option, VRI provides most of the same benefits without putting medical professionals, patients, and interpreters at risk. Here’s how:

  • The VRI platform is a telehealth system, which allows doctors to communicate with LEP patients and maintain social distancing.
  • Interpreters can still read facial expressions and body language, which allows them to clarify what patients are saying.
  • Patients often feel more comfortable discussing symptoms when they can see the interpreter.

The Unique Challenges of Multicultural Patient Care

However, VRI is only one tool to fight the Coronavirus pandemic. Medical professionals must be aware of the challenges in LEP communities that prevent people from getting tested and receiving treatment.


Differing Views on Medical Care

Due to cultural differences, patients may have different views about seeking medical care and following through with treatment. You may need to:

  • Ensure they understand the importance of self-quarantine.
  • Emphasize the importance of Informing family, friends, and co-workers who may have been exposed to do the same—even if they don’t have symptoms.
  • Provide them with reliable resources in their own language (websites, hotlines, etc.).


Fears About Medical Costs

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 23% of non-elderly legal immigrants are uninsured as are 45% of undocumented immigrants. Patients may need to speak with someone about their coverage options via an interpreter. In California, for example, even undocumented immigrants qualify for emergency Medi-Cal.

Fears About Immigration Status

Undocumented immigrants may resist getting tested due to fears of being deported. You may need to ensure undocumented patients understand that health records are confidential, and seeking care won’t put them at risk for deportation.

Multi-Generational Households Are More Common

As of 2016, 29% of Asians, 27% of Hispanics and 26% of blacks lived in multigenerational households, compared to 16% of whites. In communities with large LEPs, patients and their caretakers may live with elderly family members or with someone who has a compromised immune system.

Always explain best practices for disinfecting the home and for protecting elderly or immunocompromised family members. And be sure to give caretakers the opportunity to speak through an interpreter, if they need one.

Final Thoughts on VRI

VRI not only helps patients communicate with medical professionals, but it can help inform LEP communities about how to stay safe and reduce the spread of misinformation. If you’d like to know more about your options, contact Boostlingo today.