Technology and Medical Interpreting: Global Communication Enhances Language Services in Healthcare

Guest post by Kristin Quinlan, CEO, Certified Languages International.

Kristin Quinlan
Kristin Quinlan

It’s no surprise that the communication landscape is evolving. While face-to-face conversation will always be an important form of interaction, individuals are increasingly engaging in dialogue — both personal and professional — with the help of technology (Skype, Google Hangouts, FaceTime, etc.).

These technologies have influenced new programs in the healthcare industry, and telemedicine has taken flight. Through one-on-one conferencing with doctors, either over-the-phone or via video, programs like Doctor on Demand and AnywhereCare connect patients with doctors in as little as 30 minutes, diagnosing everything from the common cold to sprains.

Technology and the rise in global communication have made their impact on language services in medical facilities as well. With a non-English speaking population that represents 20 percent of the population and has grown 81 percent since 1990, healthcare interpreting — whether it occurs face-to-face, over the phone or via video — is incredibly crucial to ensure accurate patient communication and, ultimately, safe medical practices.

Interpreting in the medical industry is nothing new. Healthcare providers have long brought interpreters into their facilities to bridge conversations with patients who speak a language other than English. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 required medical providers to use interpreters when necessary. With an increasingly diverse population, this policy was reinforced by President Clinton’s Executive Order 13166 in 2000, which sought to improve access to services for people with limited English proficiency.

While the need for interpreting in healthcare is evergreen, the language industry has more services available now than ever before. Medical interpreting has a broader set of options when it comes to communicating.

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