Medical interpreters

As more COVID-19 vaccines undergo clinical trials, the end of the pandemic may soon be in sight. However, developing a vaccine is only the first step. Distributing it throughout the U.S. population will pose another challenge—particularly in communities of color. Although groups such as Blacks and Latinos are at a higher risk for serious complications, many of them mistrust the medical establishment.

 

In order to keep all Americans safe, healthcare professionals will need to build trust in these communities through education and outreach. That means medical interpreters will play a vital role in Latino and other limited English proficiency (LEP) communities. But before we dive into the benefits of medical interpreting, let’s take a look at some statistics.

 

The Trust Gap in Black and Latino Communities

 

A study by Langer Research found that only 66% of Latinos would agree to a coronavirus vaccine, even if it were free of charge. That number drops below 50% among Black respondents. Doubts about safety and effectiveness seem to drive these numbers as only:

 

  • 14% of Black people trust that the vaccine is safe, while 18% trust it will be effective.
  • 34% of Latinos trust the vaccine’s safety, and 40% trust its effectiveness.

 

Black respondents also cited historical reasons for their mistrust. Medical experiments, such as the Tuskegee syphilis study, were conducted without the knowledge or consent of Black participants. Latinos mentioned similar fears as well as lack of trust in the government to have their best interests in mind.

 

The nonprofit that commissioned the report expressed concerns about a similar hesitancy among Native Americans, Asians, and other non-white ethnic groups.

 

How Medical Interpreters Can Help

 

While there’s no quick fix to improve trust, providing accurate information and taking the time to address concerns may go a long way. As healthcare professionals begin outreach, they’ll also need to provide language support for members of LEP communities. And here’s where professional medical interpreters come in.

 

Although bilingual staff and family members are often called upon to help, they typically don’t make the best interpreters. That’s because medical interpreters are specially trained in interpreting and medical terminology. They also serve as a neutral third-party whose sole purpose is to facilitate communication between the patient and the healthcare provider. Patients may feel more comfortable using an interpreter for this very reason.

 

Why Remote Medical Interpreting Is a Safer Choice

 

Bringing an interpreter onsite is often the best option. However, due to the health risks, healthcare providers may prefer to connect with a medical interpreter remotely—either via video remote or over the phone.

Fortunately, the BoostCare Telehealth platform makes it easy to connect with a medical interpreter within minutes. Our Boostlingo Professional Interpreter Network (BPIN) includes interpreters who speak over 200 languages and are ready to assist.

 

Think Boostlingo may be right for your practice? Contact us today to start your free trial!

Simultaneous Interpreting

Interpreting is a tough job. Beyond being bilingual, professional interpreters need strong listening, communication, and interpersonal skills—not to mention a great memory. On top of that, interpreters who work in fields such as legal and medical typically need to complete a specialized certification program to meet state or federal requirements.

 

Yet one type of interpreting stands above the rest when it comes to difficulty: simultaneous interpreting. Here’s a look at one of the most famous—though least understood—types of interpretation along with the science behind how it works.

 

What Is Simultaneous Interpreting?

 

Like the name states, simultaneous interpreting involves translating a speaker’s words as they are talking. This is in contrast to consecutive interpreting, which allows the speaker to finish before the interpreter translates the message into the target language.

 

Simultaneous interpreting is typically used during conferences and other meetings that include speakers of multiple languages. (Think the iconic image of interpreters in glass booths at the United Nations.) And while many simultaneous interpreters still perform their role onsite, remote simultaneous interpreting options also exist.

 

Which Skills Do Simultaneous Interpreters Need? 

 

Unlike consecutive interpreters, simultaneous interpreters have no room for error. They have no time to ask a speaker to clarify what they said or even take notes. That means they must rely heavily on their short-term memory to reproduce the speaker’s message in the target language. (Consecutive interpreters use both their short-term and long-term memories.)

 

Simultaneous interpreters must also predict what a speaker will say next. They use the context of the meeting to help determine the message and translate it in real-time. This requires a deep understanding of the subject matter, as the interpreter has little time to recall less familiar terminology or phrases.

 

Simultaneous Interpreting and the Brain

 

So, how does a simultaneous interpreter’s brain tackle this daunting task? Although neuroscientists have studied language for decades, some mysteries around simultaneous interpreting remain. However, researchers believe that it partially involves a region of the brain called Broca’s area. This region is known for its role in both language production and working memory.

 

Using an fMRI, researchers at the University of Geneva observed the brains of multilinguals. They tracked when someone: listened to a sentence, listened to and repeated a sentence, and listened to a sentence in one language and interpreted it into another. The researchers found that Broca’s region was equally activated during all three tasks. However, the caudate nucleus, which is the part of the brain that is responsible for learning and decision-making skills, became more engaged during the interpretation task.

 

Ultimately, neuroscientists believe that no single part of the brain controls interpreting. Networks across multiple regions of the brain likely contribute to this amazing ability.

 

Given the brain processing power required, simultaneous interpreters typically work in 30-minute shifts to give each other a break. And given just how hard the job is, they definitely earn it!

language barriers

Over 25 million U.S. residents speak English “less than very well.” Yet healthcare providers still fall short when it comes to providing language assistance for those who need it. This lack of language support can leave limited English proficiency (LEP) patients and caregivers struggling to navigate the healthcare system. Delays in care, fewer referrals to specialists, and less diagnostic testing are just a few of the consequences.

 

Fortunately, video remote and over-the-phone medical interpreting services go a long way when it comes to guiding LEP speakers though the healthcare process. Here’s a look at the challenges they face from booking an appointment to understanding treatment options, and how medical interpreters can help.

 

Language Barriers in the Healthcare System

 

While communication issues may arise during a medical exam, they often occur as soon as someone calls to book an appointment. During an Academic Pediatrics study, Spanish speaking caregivers reported that they had trouble when they called the facility. Those who made an appointment faced additional obstacles when it came to registration and communicating with office staff.

 

Once they met with the healthcare provider, some respondents reported that they struggled to understand the diagnosis, treatment options, and follow-up care recommendations. Some simply nodded as if they understood, even when they didn’t. Others relied on their child or other family member to interpret—a practice that medical professionals discourage. Unfortunately, the lack of bilingual staff and/or access to a medical interpreter left some respondents with no other options.

 

How Remote Medical Interpreters Can Help

 

Bilingual staff are always a great addition to a medical practice. However, they typically aren’t trained to provide interpreting services. That’s where medical interpreters come in.

 

Although hiring an onsite medical interpreter is often ideal, it may not always be possible or even necessary. For example, if no bilingual staff member is available, you can help a patient schedule an appointment by connecting with an over-the-phone interpreter. The same is true when patients need assistance with registration.

 

Video remote interpreting, on the other hand, works well during telehealth appointments and onsite visits. Medical interpreters can glean information from a patient’s facial expressions and body language to ensure there is no miscommunication between them and the provider.

 

Both options allow you to connect with a medical interpreter within minutes, which reduces wait times and can improve care outcomes.

 

Connecting with BoostCare Telehealth  

 

With BoostCare Telehealth, you can quickly connect with medical interpreters who speak over 200 languages. Our HIPAA-compliant platform is easy to use for patients and healthcare providers alike. All you need is an internet connection and a device with a webcam to get started.

 

Want to learn more about BoostCare Telehealth? Contact us today to start your free trial!