The United States is built on diversity. We are a country that prides ourselves on being a melting pot of different races, ethnicities, and cultures. We are also a country who understands the importance of providing access to healthcare to anyone who needs it – an issue that becomes very challenging when there are communication and/or language barriers interfering with the ability to provide healthcare or medical services. That’s why medical interpreter services and medical translation services are critical components of your central scheduling and patient communication management services.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, over 25 million Americans speak English less than very well and an estimated 66 million – or over 21% of the U.S. population speak a language that is not English as their first or primary language. In addition, there are approximately 11 million U.S adults who are deaf and an additional 48 million who report some degree of hearing loss.
Considering how challenging it is to communicate when you don’t understand the language or when you are unable to communicate, it’s no surprise that people who are non-English speaking or who are deaf or hard of hearing are at increased risk of having a poor healthcare experience that increases the chance of misdiagnosis, a drug interaction, or having an experience that adversely affects their health, safety, and overall patient experience.
Knowing that there is a significant portion of the U.S. population who require healthcare services, but are unable to fully access them, providing an alternative to traditional calling service, such as comprehensive, fully-inclusive patient communication services that includes access to medical translators and medical interpreters has become an essential service to ensure your patient’s needs are being met.
The Difference Between A Medical Interpreter and Medical Translator
Medical interpreters and medical translators, while often used interchangeably, provide essential – but very different – services to the populations they serve. A medical interpreter, or healthcare interpreter, assists non-English speakers communicate with doctors, nurses, and front office medical staff to ensure the patient is being cared for appropriately and the medical staff fully understands the patient’s healthcare needs.
Medical interpreters effectively bridge the verbal communication gap between healthcare providers and patients when there is a language barrier. Not only does an interpreter help with communicating concerns between patient and doctor, they are also extremely important in building trust and comfort between everyone involved.
For non-English speaking or patients who are deaf or hard of hearing, and who might be apprehensive about interacting with healthcare providers, medical interpretation services provided immediately – and with the first call to your office – improve the overall quality of service and patient satisfaction.
A medical translator is also involved with communication, but primarily in the form of medically-required written documents. A medical translator translates medical documents and paperwork into a patient’s native language. Like a medical interpreter, medical translators need to be proficient in a second language; in addition, they also need to be skilled in written communication and possess an understanding of medical and healthcare technical language.
Understanding Your Patient’s Rights To Medical Interpretation Services And Medical Translation Services
Any healthcare organization receiving federal funds (including through Medicare or Medicaid/CHIP) are required by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act and Executive Order 13166 to provide medical interpreter services and medical translation services for Limited English Proficient (LEP) individuals.
These services are not required to be reimbursed by Medicare or Medicaid at the federal level and must be free-of-charge to patients taking advantage of them. Medicaid does give states the option to consider medical interpretation services as a medical related or administrative expenditure, as long as the services are provided at no costs to the individual patient.
The Benefits of Central Service Medical Interpretation and Medical Translation
With the importance of patient engagement never being more important, there is a tremendous need for interpretation and translation services to be available upon the first patient call, email, or inquiry.
Research shows that over 50% of consumers would not use a company again after having a negative experience with a customer service representative, the same statistics are true for patients. Most patients are not likely to engage with your healthcare organization after a negative patient experience with administrative, front office, or patient communication management staff.
Central scheduling services that offer professionals trained in medical interpretation and medical translation, or who are able to quickly connect patients and healthcare providers to interpreters able to facilitate services, report having more satisfied patients and a more positive overall patient engagement experience.
Improved Relationship and Trust Between Patient and Healthcare Provider
The quality of patient engagement and level of patient-provider trust are directly related to the level of trust and comfort your patient has with you and the members of your organization. The quality of your organization’s patient engagement and the level of trust experienced by your patients are both directly affected by patient experience with central services.
In fact, according to recent research provided by the Pew Research Center, an estimated 80% of non-English speaking patients would prefer to see a healthcare provider who speaks the same language. Additionally, nearly 20% of organizations in the U.S., including healthcare organizations, are losing business – and revenue – due to the lack of language skills and lack of perceived cultural awareness of their consumers.
Utilizing an all-inclusive virtual healthcare central scheduling service that provides access to medical interpreters and medical translation services not only improves patient engagement, it also reduces your overhead and operational costs by eliminating the salary and related benefits associated with hiring full-time medical interpreters and medical translators.
Eliminate Communication Issues With Responsive Patient Communication Management That Includes Medical Interpretation Support
Communication issues between your patients and your staff cause undue frustration, are inefficient, and often result in poor experiences, lost business, and decreased revenue. Fortunately, there are progressive, all-inclusive central scheduling solutions that are virtual and provide your patients with full access to medical interpreters and medical translation services.
In addition to gaining a better understanding of the medical needs and patient histories of your non-English speaking patients, by providing access to central scheduling medical interpretation services and medical translators, your healthcare organization also provides a better medical experience for your patients and their families, improve your ability to efficiently schedule, free up your existing administrative and office staff for more immediate or pressing matters, and improve your relationship with your patients and with your community as a whole.
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