Establishing Language Services

Simple steps to create an effective medical translation and interpretation program.

As the patient population within Virginia's free and charitable clinics becomes more and more diverse, translation and medical interpretation services are becoming a necessity. Indeed, over 80% of our free and charitable clinic members required language services for their patients in the past year. While in person interpretation is preferred, it isn't always possible. Luckily, reliable, high-quality remote interpreting is a great and more cost-effective alternative.

Remote interpreting has helped many healthcare providers deliver better care and outcomes to their non-English-speaking patients. When you begin to outline your medical remote interpreting program, and start laying its foundation, there are a few important factors to consider.

Here are 5 critical steps to take:
  • Assess Your Needs: Depending on the level of patient diversity, you may find yourself in need of an interpreter daily or less frequently. Do you need an interpreter for one specific language or many? It's also important to keep up to date with legislation that requires language access. Expanding your interpreting (spoken) and translation (written) options will ensure that you remain compliant with federal requirements.
  • Choose a Language Service Provider: Once you know your translation and remote interpreting needs, it's time to find the right language service provider (LSP). It's important to choose an LSP with: a simple process, 24/7 access, and HIPAA trained and certified medical interpreters.
  • Create Your Policies: It's important to establish in a written policy how you will handle interpretation services and document what the procedure should be and whom to reach out to in case of questions or issues. This can be updated if needed, but it's important to start with a baseline policy staff can refer to.
  • Train Your Providers: Provide robust training on the new system for all of your staff members. Most remote interpreting services are designed to be simple and user-friendly, so the training process shouldn't be difficult—but it is necessary!
  • Ensure Access to Literature in Multiple Languages: To support your medical interpretation services, it's important to ensure your written patient information is available in the most common languages you encounter. This is a cost-effective way to deliver information to all your patients and can help make the experience of visiting the doctor more pleasant and helpful for patients. Be sure to enlist the help of an experienced and qualified LSP to ensure high-quality translations for all your material.

These simple steps are a good starting point for creating an effective translation and interpretation program in your health care clinic.
Article provided by SpokenHere, an on-demand remote interpreting platform that gives you instant access to professional, HIPAA trained and certified interpreters in more than 300 languages, with average connect times under 10 seconds in most languages.


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