Webcam Technology Helps Arizona Hospitals Better Communicate With Non-English-Speaking Patients
A webcam language interpretation service is helping three Arizona hospitals better serve Spanish-speaking patients in their emergency departments, the East Valley & Scottsdale Tribune reports. The Iasis Healthcare hospitals had relied on telephone interpretation services before implementing the new webcam system.
Iasis contracts with Houston Medical Center's Language Assistance Telemedicine to provide the equipment for the webcam system and also has a staff of translators available 24 hours for medical videoconferencing. Many of the translation staff are physicians from Mexico or Spain who are taking classes to practice in the U.S., according to April Hayes, ED director at Mesa, Ariz.-based Mountain Vista Medical Center. The hospital system mainly uses the service to translate for Spanish-speaking patients but plans to add other languages as needed, Hayes said. Hospitals also have used the service to communicate with deaf patients.
Hayes said, "This technology is a little bit more unique because the patient can actually see the interpreter and the interpreter can see the patient. We've made it to where that patient has a little more personalization."
Renee Little, an ED physician assistant at Mountain Vista, said the face-to-face interaction with an interpreter is a better communication tool than speaking over the phone. "I think it helps the patient feel at ease and it also helps them know that you can better communicate instead of having someone on the other end of the phone that they can't see," she said, adding, "It's hard to trust somebody you can't see. It helps them have a little more trust and maybe they'll confide a little more than they normally would" (Gately, East Valley & Scottsdale Tribune, 9/12).