Telehealth: Critical to Remember the Needs of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Deaf and Hard of Hearing

It might surprise you to learn that there are 37 million American adults with impaired hearing – that’s nearly the size of California, or 11 percent of the U.S. population. This group is expected to grow considerably as Baby Boomers age.

For the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, masks, social distancing, and other measures taken to protect public health have created tremendous challenges. At the most basic level, many Deaf and Hard of Hearing people rely on visual cues like the movement of another person’s lips. This is made all but impossible with masks. The result is that Deaf and Hard of Hearing people often feel isolated, as this article from the New York Times points out.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals also miss out on public health information, as many broadcast announcements still do not include closed captions or the use of a sign language interpreter.

And then there’s telemedicine, the use of which has grown exponentially during the pandemic. Some telehealth platforms, as well as more common video conferencing apps like Zoom and Skype, are not built with interpreters in mind.

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Telehealth Services Risk Leaving Non-English Speakers Behind

without language interpreters, telehealth

Telehealth has the potential to improve healthcare access, but without interpreters, it may inadvertently worsen minority health disparities.

A new report from UCLA says that policymakers should ensure that telemedicine doesn’t leave vulnerable populations behind, both during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

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Announcing LanguageLine for Telehealth

foreign language interpreter translator telehealth

Today we are proud to announce the debut of LanguageLine for Telehealth.

This breakthrough service gives healthcare providers the much-needed ability to invite professional, medically trained language interpreters into their telemedicine sessions. As a result, telehealth is now available to all patients, regardless of language, culture, or ability.

This advancement affirms LanguageLine's commitment to being the world’s leading provider of interpretation for telemedicine.

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Can Limited-English Speakers Use Telehealth? The Answer is ‘Yes.’

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.

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BREAKING: Medicare Telehealth Coverage Expanded for Beneficiaries

Language access can partner with telehealth visits.

Amid an international health emergency, the White House has expanded Medicare telehealth coverage that enables beneficiaries to receive a wider range of healthcare services from their doctors without having to travel to a healthcare facility.

What should providers do if they want to use telehealth but the patient speaks a foreign language? Below, we will address a simple solution to using telemedicine with limited-English-proficient patients. First, let’s take a closer look at this expansion of telehealth coverage.

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Coronavirus: What if Your Patient is Limited English Speaking?

Medical Interpreter

The fast-spreading coronavirus, which has infected more than 8,200 people across the world, has been declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organization.

Hours earlier, the U.S. confirmed its first human-to-human transmission of the virus, which has killed more than 200 people in China and now has spread to at least 18 other countries.

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NEW eBOOK: Telehealth and the Vital Role of Language Access

The Vital Role of Language Access in Telehealth

Healthcare organizations are adopting telehealth technology at an impressive rate.

Legislation, escalating costs to deliver traditional services, and overall population health management have accelerated interest in telemedicine solutions. More than half of hospitals are expected to have installed telehealth technology by 2020. Especially in heretofore underserved populations, telehealth stands to dramatically improve the delivery of quality care to areas where it has been challenging - if not impossible - to access.

But for telemedicine platforms to truly be revolutionary, they must be able to hear every voice, including those that speak a language other than English. In other words, if you are building a telehealth solution without limited-English speakers in mind – stop!

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