How to Address the Limited English Speaking and Deaf Community During the COVID-19 Crisis

The COVID-19 outbreak is causing hospitals and physicians across the country to increasingly utilize telehealth and video encounters.  At the same time, government regulations are rapidly changing to allow for more telehealth to address the crisis. At the center of these developments is a dire need to reduce the amount of direct human contact in clinical settings.  The risk of exposure to the virus in this outbreak is high. Health experts indicate outbreaks may become more common.   In addition to the many known challenges COVID-19 is creating, limited English speaking and Deaf patients face additional challenges.  Amid this crisis, heart-breaking reports of some hospitals having difficulties accessing interpreters are beginning to surface.  Healthcare providers can solve these problems IF the right solutions are in place.

New Ways of Delivering Interpreters to Extend Care Beyond Walls

The growing importance of mobile healthcare underscores the critical need for interpreters-on-demand.

At every turn, healthcare providers and government officials are urging the reduction of human contact during clinical settings to alleviate the spread of the disease.  Communicating with the limited English proficient population (LEP) and the hard of hearing only gets more difficult with these new guidelines and procedures.  An added problem is that most health systems utilize their own communications and privacy protection platforms.

Industry experts have responded by developing a range of solutions to keep communications safe and reliable.  Language Service Associates (LSA) has solutions and options available now for all levels of patient care.

A Range of Options

No one solution will work perfectly for all healthcare providers.  The solution must match existing needs, ability to deploy, training time, clinical settings and budgets.  Each option will bring with it “pluses and minuses” that each provider must evaluate.

  • Top-Line Option – Full Integration with Telehealth Platform

The best option remains a fully integrated telehealth solution that integrates with the patient’s Electronic Health Records (EHR).  The new ViTel Net and Language Services Associates (LSA) platform integration enables clinicians to immediately add an interpreter within the existing telehealth workflow with just three clicks. This streaming solution works across multiple devices, regardless of a physician or patient location, and without additional equipment for the healthcare organization. By embedding the interpreter solution directly into a telehealth encounter, your organization vastly improves clinician workflows, reduces the chance for medical errors and readmissions for limited English proficient (LEP) and hearing-impaired patients. It’s a cost-saving, affordable, HIPAA secure, and sustainable option.

  • LSA’s IRIS Solution

Where full telehealth integration is not possible, another option is the use of LSA’s IRIS (Instant Remote Interpretation Solution) platform application. to enable a patient and doctor to seamlessly interact directly with an interpreter on an app. It is an application that is easily downloadable on mobile, computer or tablet. It’s also encrypted, secure and meets NAD standards.

  • LSA’s Interpreter to Your PlatformConnect

Many healthcare providers are already using some form of video telehealth platform (eCW, Teledoc, MDLive, etc.) or other conferencing solutions (Zoom, Teams, etc.).  Changes in regulations now allow for the introduction of an interpreter into your existing platform.  LSA’s Interpreter to Your Platform Connect option is a solution aimed at immediately fitting into an existing platform.  It is a cost-effective solution, without significant IT development, for healthcare providers that must get up and running quickly.  The challenge here is that patient privacy is still dependent on a third-party provider outside the control of the healthcare provider.

There are also several other solutions including video conference third party calls and virtual face-to-face, each with pros, cons and important security considerations. As our healthcare delivery model rapidly changes, healthcare organizations need flexible options for accessing interpreters. Language Services Associates has the solutions for your organization.

To learn more, click here to schedule a demonstration and consultation today.