Contact Center Solutions Featured Article

Language Interpretation to Improve Medical, Customer Service Situations

December 31, 2014

The United States is one of the most ethnically diverse areas on the globe. People who speak a number of different languages call the U.S. home, and many would argue that the overall culture of the U.S. is richer as a result. However, a language barrier can persist among diverse groups in ways that can determine the outcome of emergency services.

A recent tour bus accident in Redding, Calif. provided a prime example of the consequences of a language barrier for the medical staff of local Mercy Medical Center. First responders to the scene of the accident used the help of Stratus Video Interpreting services to help them understand the needs of their patients with limited English proficiency (LEP). The latest news release from Stratus says its service provided medical staff who spoke English with immediate access to interpreters who translated patients' words from Spanish.

The scene of the accident could have turned out much worse if medical staff did not have access to interpretive services. Sean Belanger, the CEO of Stratus, commented on the need for speed in such situations where injuries require timely treatment.

“In emergency medical situations, time is of the essence — the faster an injured patient receives treatment, the better their chances for a successful recovery,” Belanger said. “A lack of communication between accident victims and medical personnel can have a serious impact on their treatment.”

Stratus cited a recent article in the Annals of Emergency Medicine which reported that professional interpretation services can lower medical errors as compared to informal interpretation services. Interpreters with more than 100 hours of training, the article said while noting its own research can lower the translation error rate from 22 percent to two percent.

Census records indicate that more than 20 percent of U.S. residents, more than 65 million people, speak a language other than English when they are at home. Furthermore, about 25 million people are said to speak English “less than very well”—a statistic which can inform this aspect of medical care as well as basic interaction between people in other areas of life.

TMC noted recently that Ryder System has partnered with Language Select to offer interpretation services for its call centers. With that service, Ryder, a reseller of commercial vehicles, can offer its own customers instant language translation so they can better interact with sales representatives. It is clear that interpretation is a necessary element of life in the sales and medical sectors. Formal interpreters can turn poor sales experiences and life-threatening situations into positive situations for everyone involved. Businessmen and medical personnel can focus on their own expertise while interpretation staff can clear up any inconsistencies in communication because they are the best at what they do.

Edited by Maurice Nagle