Limited English speakers can use telehealth LanguageLine

The use of telehealth is rapidly expanding. Particularly during a health emergency in which the risk of infection is high and the need for care is urgent, physicians are seeking to meet with patients remotely using telehealth solutions.

Given the highly contagious nature of the coronavirus (COVID-19), some healthcare providers are meeting with their patients from a distance via video-conferencing platforms like Zoom, GoToMeeting, WebEx, Skype, as well as traditional telemedicine platforms.

The question is often asked, “What happens when the patient speaks a foreign language? Can an interpreter be brought into these conversations to assist with a limited-English speaker?”

The answer is yes.

A simple solution

There is a simple, easy-to-use method for incorporating a professional audio interpreter into a telehealth session. Some leading medical facilities around the country are already using this feature.

Most of the video platforms mentioned above have the ability to dial out and place an outbound audio call to a third party. Some of these platforms call this feature an “address book.” This feature can be used to dial out to an interpreter.

Seamless call flow

The experience for the provider is quite seamless and intuitive. On the video platform interface, they simply click the button that allows for an audio call to a third party. This places an outbound call to LanguageLine, which is answered in seconds.

The caregiver first is connected with our speech-recognition system. They are asked to say the name of the desired language, upon which they are connected to a professional, human interpreter in seconds. The caregiver and patient are able to hear the interpreter, but not see them. These interpreters are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in over 240 spoken languages.

(Unfortunately, patients who require American Sign Language cannot utilize this service, though we hope to soon announce a solution for them, as well.)

From this point forward, it is a typical interpreting experience. The healthcare provider briefs the interpreter on the situation and then begins addressing the patient.

Set up within days

A service like this is readily available to any organization and can be set up within a matter of days. Accessing audio interpreters in this manner is typically uncomplicated, though some support may be needed depending on the platform your organization is using to communicate with remote patients. LanguageLine is pleased to provide this support as necessary. 

This service is pay-as-you-go. You do not pay for minutes you do not use; thus, it may be cost-effective for organizations to set this solution in place in the event that it is needed.

Existing LanguageLine clients should contact their account executive to begin the process, which typically takes 1-3 business days.

Non-LanguageLine clients who are interested in this service should contact us via this form or call 800-752-6096. We will quickly assess your needs and immediately provide you with potential solutions.

Interested in over-the-phone interpretation?

Some physicians are conducting telehealth by phone only. Can an interpreter be patched in on such a conversation to provide assistance to a limited-English patient? Again, the answer is a resounding "yes." LanguageLine can  provide interpreters for this environment. This article explains more. 

Read more

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