The Growing Need for Language Services in Healthcare

Guest post by Sean Patrick Hopwood, MBA, president, Day Translations, Inc..

Sean Hopwood
Sean Hopwood

In almost every corner of the globe, an international population continues to grow. In the
United States, there are millions of multi-ethnic members of society who still do not have health insurance. Frequently, they also forego medical consultations and treatment because they experience difficulty in communicating with medical practitioners.

The number of adult foreign language speakers in the United States and the mandates of the Affordable Care Act have now paved the way for the more active involvement of medical interpreters in the healthcare industry.

A rise in numbers

In the past, medical interpreters facilitated two-way communication between adult patients and their doctors. Today, very few children with limited English language skills are insured under the Affordable Care Act or ACA. In view of this, medical interpreters are often called to remove the language barriers for pediatric patients who have limited proficiency in the English language. Studies have shown positive results for adult Limited English Proficient (LEP) patients when their communication is facilitated by an interpreter. Likewise positive outcomes have been recorded, showing that when the language barrier between doctors and their adult patients is removed, inappropriate treatment and misdiagnosis are eliminated.

Different situation with a child patient

When the patient is a child and the parents have limited proficiency in the English language, it often leads to children staying longer in the hospital. There had been studies conducted showing that on the average, inpatients in pediatric care stay about 60 percent longer when their parents lack fluency in the English language. With the help of medical interpreters, the number of children spending longer stays in hospitals are slowly getting reduced.

Higher demand for professional interpreters and translators

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics, the demand for professional translators and interpreters in general is expected to have a 29 percent increase from 2014 until 2024. This projected average job growth for language services is faster than any other occupation. This will be driven by the larger increases in the presence of non-English speakers in the United States and increasing globalization. Likewise, the bureau also projects that the demand will be for translators and interpreters who have received certification.

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