DAVENPORT, Iowa - Oct. 5, 2015 -- Healthcare terms and technology can be confusing and frightening in any language, creating possible gaps in vital communication between healthcare providers and patients. As the local patient population becomes more global, Genesis Health System is responding with a global solution.
Genesis is working with Stratus Video Interpreting of Clearwater, FL. to bridge communication gaps with patients, no matter what language is their "first'' language. Video Remote Interpreters (VRI) will be available throughout the health system. When fully implemented, Genesis will have 44 Video Remote Interpreters available at the medical centers, convenient care locations, physician offices and outpatient care offices.
"These video interpreters will go a long way in bridging the gaps we had identified,'' said Tyne Rieck, service excellence coordinator, Genesis Health System. "Communicating with patients is an issue throughout healthcare. "We identified our needs and started researching solutions.'' Stratus is working with more than 600 hospitals and healthcare systems across the country.''
Video Remote Interpreters work like this:
If important information needs to be explained to a patient whose first language is a language other than English, the healthcare provider taps on an icon on the iPad screen to activate the language translation service. From a list of 27 available video languages and 200 more languages available from Stratus with audio only, the provider selects the appropriate language. Within 30 seconds to a minute an interpreter appears on the screen.
The interpreter and healthcare provider exchange information such as department and patient name, and then the healthcare provider speaks. They pause after every sentence or two, to allow the interpreter to give the information in the patient's preferred language. It's a little slower than a normal conversation, but the extra effort is worth it when a patient receives all of the necessary information and their questions are answered accurately. The iPad-based devices are mobile and adjustable to give a patient who is lying in a hospital bed a face-to-face look at the interpreter.
Genesis was already using a face-to-face language interpreter service and continues to use that service but in emergent situations or during non-business hours, it can take a period of time to get an interpreter where they are needed. "Live interpreters on site will always be best, and their use will not diminish. This is the next best thing,'' Rieck explained. "The mobility and quick response we've experienced have really been a benefit to the patients. We can get care started right away. The response from patients has been good so far.''
Rieck explained that Stratus has call centers scattered throughout the country. If one area of the country was experiencing a loss of power, the service would still be available from other call centers.
Sign Language, Spanish Most Common Requests
Rieck said American Sign Language and Spanish are the interpreter services Genesis has used most often since introducing the devices a month ago. "One of the reasons we looked for new solutions is that in talking with the deaf community, we knew we needed something better,'' Rieck said. "That was what they were telling us. That started our research and search for a solution.''
Among the other video services available are Arabic, Bosnian, Burmese, Cantonese, French, Haitian Creole, Hmong, Korean, Mandarin, Nepali, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Somali and Vietnamese.
Rieck demonstrated the system by activating a session in American Sign Language. A pleasant woman introduced herself as Aralyn and explained by voice and ASL how the system works. "Both of my parents were deaf and we didn't have anything like this,'' Aralyn explained. "My parents either had to write down what they needed or we had to use sign language. This is so much better.
"Most of us with Stratus have been translating for a long time ... in my case about 40 years ... and we have all received training in medical terms and procedures.'' Rieck said using family to interpret to a family member is usually a last resort and shouldn't be necessary with the mobile video translators. "By using interpreters who are not family, we are making sure there is a literal interpretation of the information we need to share,'' said Rieck. "There is not as much paraphrasing going on this way. A family member might protect a loved one and tell them what they think the patient should know to make them feel better instead of what they really need to know.''
Genesis Health System continues to explore new technologies for the benefit of patients. Genesis has been named one of the nation's Most Wired Hospitals and Health Systems for 12 consecutive years.