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!