Hospital Interpreter device NOT lost in translation

P.A. Rodett Osorio and DIrector of Nursing, Mehdy Osorio, teach a class on the new Stratus Mobile Interpreter.

By Lisa Morton

Culberson County Hospital recently received a Stratus Mobile Interpreter which will enable providers to communicate with patients in over 200 languages.  The system is scheduled to go live later this month.

According to information from an mHealth Intelligence newsletter, Healthcare providers are relying more and more on digital health tools to communicate with their patients.  That’s especially true when the patient doesn’t understand English.

Indeed, patient engagement is one of the trendiest topics in healthcare these days, and it goes far beyond boosting patient satisfaction rates or getting someone to buy into medication adherence. If patient and provider can’t even get past “hello,” it stands to reason that a clinician won’t be able to provide proper care and a patient won’t be able to react accordingly.

Challenges in dealing with patients who aren’t fluent in English are well-documented in healthcare circles, and sometimes prove to be fatal (imagine a patient misinterpreting a doctor’s instructions for post-discharge care). Furthermore, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that more than 21 percent of the nation’s residents speak a language other than English at home, and that percentage is only expected to grow.

In recent years, researchers have sought to study whether language barriers affect hospital care outcomes, whether professional interpreters (as opposed to, say, family members) can affect clinical outcomes, and whether non-English-proficient patients have longer hospital stays.