3 Ways Technology Is Improving the Hospital Interpreter Career Field

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Reblogged with permission from e-voice, the blog of the ATA Interpreters Division,


As healthcare facilities encounter an increasingly diverse patient population, the demand for qualified medical interpreters continues to grow. In an attempt to provide language services to all non-English speaking patients, healthcare facilities are increasingly integrating healthcare technology into their existing language access plans. Such technology includes interpreter scheduling apps, video remote interpretation, and over-the-phone interpretation.

The use of these technologies provides significant benefits not only to healthcare providers, but also the medical interpreters working with them. Here’s how:

Simplified Scheduling

Interpreter scheduling apps are now becoming common practice in hospitals and health systems. They have been shown to improve interpreter efficiency, streamline scheduling and provide access to a wider range of qualified interpreters. Likewise, such apps connect interpreters with a greater number of hospitals and health systems, expanding their professional network.

“Technology enables the interpreter to diversify talents and strengthen their pool of clientele”

For both the interpreter and the healthcare provider, interpreter scheduling apps greatly simplify the task of requesting and accepting jobs. Healthcare providers can send a request to qualified medical interpreters in the surrounding area who then receive a notification on their mobile phone with session details. If the session is desirable and compatible with the interpreter’s schedule, he or she can accept the job with the press of a button.

The session is then automatically synced with the interpreter’s calendar, eliminating the hassle of manual entry. The healthcare provider can even track the interpreter as he or she makes her way to the facility. With less time spent scheduling multiple job opportunities, interpreters can focus more energy on the challenging and rewarding aspects of their work such as culture, linguistics and continuing education.

Diversified Talents

Technology enables the interpreter to diversify talents and strengthen their pool of clientele – whether that be over-the-phone, video or on-site opportunities. By becoming an expert in all three modes of interpretation, medical interpreters learn about etiquette specific to each and become more tech savvy, particularly when well versed on the use of scheduling apps and video remote interpretation platforms.

They also reap the benefits of fine tuning skills unique to each platform:
● Video interpreters hone in on visual aspects of communication and subtle nonverbal cues that can be key in gauging patient understanding. Over-the-phone interpreters strengthen their listening skills, meticulously processing what is said in the source language then consecutively rendering it into the target language.

● On-site interpreters are frequently more exposed to sensitive situations such as mental health, informed consent and end-of-life discussions, where the complexities of the code of ethics become more acute and their commitment to impartiality and confidentiality needs to be managed more closely. When medical interpreters have the capacity to work in all three spheres of interpretation, they can extend their services to a wider range of clientele. On the other hand, they can also be more selective when it comes to accepting work opportunities, ensuring that jobs are best suited to their professional interests and needs.

Improved Work-Life Balance

Technology provides more flexibility for hospital interpreters, allowing them to work remotely, on-site or via a combination of the two. Medical interpreters working over-the-phone, over video and/or on-site can schedule their days in a way that complements life on both a personal and professional level.
A healthier work–life balance has been shown to result in better job satisfaction and performance. A recent Accenture study found that more than half of participants recognize work–life balance as a top factor in the success of their careers. Further investigation demonstrates the major role that technology plays in work–life balance. More than three fourths of employees surveyed agree that technology enables more schedule flexibility, which was linked to a healthy work–life balance by 80% of participants.

As the demand for language services in healthcare increases, technology has become an integral part of the medical interpreting profession. The impact of technology on medical interpretation not only benefits healthcare providers, but it also enables hospital interpreters to more easily manage their schedules, diversify talents and enjoy a healthier work–life balance.

David Fetterolf leads the overall strategic direction of Stratus Video’s Language Services division. David brings over 26 years of experience working for healthcare information technology and service companies. Prior to joining Stratus Video, he was president and founder of MDeverywhere, revenue cycle management software tailored to the healthcare industry. In 2011 MDeverywhere made the coveted Inc. 500/5000 fastest growing companies list. Prior to MDeverywhere, David was a division president for Datamedic, a leading provider of computer-based patient records and business management software and services for medical practices and clinics. As division president, he was responsible for strategy and financial performance, which included leading the marketing, sales, implementation, support, and manufacturing and development teams. David has a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Cornell University and a Master’s of Business Administration from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania

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