During the COVID pandemic, LanguageLine has resolutely continued to provide healthcare organizations with the language services they need to support their patients. One of the adaptations our clients have had to make is a shift from in-person interpreters to virtual interpreters who are accessible on-demand via phone or video.
This has been necessitated by interactions and movements allowable under COVID-19 restrictions while protecting all parties from potential infection.
LanguageLine has continued to provide OnSite, face-to-face interpreting when and where required. With greater frequency, we have also supported clients with over-the-phone interpreting, video interpreting, and telehealth interpreting that can be accessed through full-scale telehealth platforms or video-conferencing platforms like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype, or Google Hangouts.
In the United Kingdom, one of our National Health Service Trust clients (the equivalent of a local healthcare system in the United States) measured the number of language-access engagements in a given period, as well as related expenses.
During the period, not only did interactions and patient engagements remain steady and supported, but something extraordinary happened in terms of cost saving. This graph, showing usage and expenditure data from a typical acute Trust, demonstrates the situation perfectly.
At this Trust, on a typical month, savings of over 50 percent were achieved. Even better, this level of saving has been seen across Trusts with differing levels of language demand.
In short: Interactions increased while costs decreased.
LEARN MORE: When to Work with an OnSite Interpreter
So how has the cost reduced so much while the interactions and support have stayed constant? This further graph explains how.
Quite simply, the increased use of telephone and video interpreting to support patients as the key support modalities has resulted in highly significant savings – without any negative effect on limited-English speaking patients.
OnSite has been retained where deemed essential; however, LanguageLine clients have increased their use of our flexible, secure remote interpreting services, to ensure that all patients can still receive the very best care possible.