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!

Interpreting is a difficult profession. Professional interpreters must have strong listening, communication, and interpersonal skills, as well as a good memory. Furthermore, interpreters working in professions such as legal and medical must often undergo a specific certification program in order to fulfill state or federal criteria.

However, one sort of interpreting is more challenging than the others: simultaneous interpretation. Here’s a look at one of the most well-known—but least understood—types of interpretation, as well as the science underlying it.

What Does Simultaneous Interpretation Mean?

Simultaneous interpretation, as the name implies, is translating a speaker’s words as they speak. In contrast to sequential interpreting, which enables the speaker to complete before the interpreter translates the message into the target language, simultaneous interpreting allows the speaker to finish before the interpreter translates the message into the target language.

Simultaneous interpreting is commonly used at conferences and other events when speakers of various languages are present. (Think of the classic image of United Nations interpreters in glass booths.) While many simultaneous interpreters still work on-site, there are other opportunities for remote simultaneous interpreting.

Which Skills Do Simultaneous Interpreters Need? 

Simultaneous interpreters, unlike consecutive interpreters, have no margin for error. They don’t have time to ask a speaker to clarify their remarks or even take notes. To recreate the speaker’s message in the target language, students must depend largely on their short-term memory. (Consecutive interpreters employ both short- and long-term memory.)

Simultaneous interpreters listen in anticipation to what the following speaker will say. They utilize the meeting context to determine the message and translate it in real time. Because the interpreter has limited time to recollect less known vocabulary or phrases, a thorough comprehension of the subject is required.

Simultaneous Interpreting and the Brain

So, how does the mind of a simultaneous interpreter approach this difficult task? Despite the fact that neuroscientists have been studying language for decades, numerous questions surrounding simultaneous interpretation persist. Researchers believe it is partly due to a region of the brain known as Broca’s area. This area is well-known for its function in language creation as well as working memory.

The brains of multilinguals were studied using an fMRI by researchers at the University of Geneva. They recorded when someone listened to a sentence, repeated a sentence, or listened to a sentence in one language and translated it into another. The researchers discovered that Broca’s area was active similarly for all three activities. During the interpretation test, however, the caudate nucleus, the portion of the brain responsible for learning and decision-making skills, became more active.

Finally, neuroscientists think that interpretation is controlled by no single portion of the brain. This incredible talent is most likely the result of networks spanning several areas of the brain.

Given the needed brain processing power, simultaneous interpreters usually work in 30-minute shifts to give each other a rest. And given how difficult the work is, they certainly deserve it!

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!